“When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.”—Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
How true that is. In recent years, we are all about “mindfulness” and being present. Be mindful and reduce your stress and anxiety. Keep a mindfulness journal. Eat your meals mindfully—chew every morsel dozens of times, feel the textures and indulge in the flavors while you quiet the many other thoughts that flood your mind. It’s a very effective tool for disconnecting from the chaos of life.
But have you ever stopped to think about the flip side? The many times a day you rush through an activity only to immediately move on to the next? Why have you become disinterested in those activities? What is it about those people that you want to get away from? And what are you missing out on in the midst of your rush to move ahead?
I hadn’t thought about the price of rushing until I heard that line while listening to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I had read the book in my 20s, and it’s one of my husband’s favorite books. So I decided it was time for a refresher.
Think about the things you rush—or have rushed—through…and what’s really going on inside.
Driving from here to there. Of course, you’re anxious to be there and done with the trip.
Exercise class. More often than not, you exercise in order to feel better about yourself or simply to lose weight or fit into your clothes better. But the process of exercise is hard. We distract ourselves with music, videos and other mind games waiting for the session to be done. I do that in every yoga class I attend—I feel good afterward, but for some reason, I never enjoy the process of the class, and I am anxious to get on to other things every moment of the hour. I can’t necessarily rush through class, since I’m not in charge of the timing, but the desire to rush is always there.
Business or club meetings. Do you ever reach the point in a meeting when you have discussed all that you feel like you can discuss or feel like the conversation is no longer progressing, so you cut the meeting short?
How about those last papers in high school and college? Good enough. Rush. Done. Vacation time. Graduation time.
I’ve even rushed during the recording of my own podcasts and videos if I feel like my brain needs a break. It’s not that I’m not engaged in the discussion. Frankly, just the opposite. I’m so engaged that my mind needs a break, and I have to be super careful not to jump over important parts of the conversation in order to get the mental rest that my body is asking for.
The question is, What are we missing out on in the midst of all that rushing?
Rush to get from here to there…and miss out on lovely scenery or the opportunity for quiet reflection.
Cut a business meeting short…and potentially leave important ideas or details out of the discussion.
Leave swiftly when dining with friends…and limit the depth of the social connection, unless of course there is some other issue such as you just don’t enjoy being with them and perhaps should move away from them in your life.
Rush to be promoted at work or to get a new job…and limit the learning at your current position. There is always something else to learn in every job at every level.
We are so busy looking for the next activity that we are not fully engaging in and appreciating where we are now.
Enjoying the scenery. Appreciating the process of becoming more fit. Developing deeper business and personal relationships. Learning all that we can from a situation or an event.
The younger generation has been accused of lacking long-term consequential thinking because they have been raised in a world of immediate gratification. When everything comes immediately and messages change constantly, it’s easy to see how that pace becomes the norm.
But when you only look an inch deep or move too rapidly, tremendous detail is lost. It’s not just the younger generation that is suffering from get-it-done-syndrome. As technology has increased the pace and quantity of messaging and activities, we all are falling victim to it. At what price?
When my husband was on a photography trip a while back, the group was given the assignment to stand in a single place and photograph some number of images within that limited square footage. It was fascinating to see not only the variety of images he took but also the even greater array of perspectives by others who were in close proximity to him. Rushing to complete the task would have eliminated a fascinating expanse of perspective.
Next time you notice yourself rushing through something, take a pause—not to get present and mindful, but to see what it is about that activity or interaction that you no longer care about. Is that true? Do you really no longer care? Is it something or someone that should be cut out of your life? Perhaps. Or is there something you are trying not to confront? Listen and learn from the messages your mind is sending you.