I feel that I often rush through life. As if I need to get to the finish line as soon as possible. But what finish line? What finish line do I need to get to this quickly? Is it the finish line of making money? Is it the finish line of having a million followers? Is it the finish line of finding love? Or is my rush through life working towards the finish line of life itself?
It occurred to me today that there are so many people rushing through life. That it’s not just me. It’s the people that open the door when I deliver their groceries. It’s the person in the car behind me speeding past me in a rush to get to work. It’s myself, rushing through work to get home as quickly as possible. And today as I stepped out of the car and walked up to the front door I realized that the speed at which I was going had obliterated the feeling of aliveness. That the speed had caused more danger, more mistakes than it had given me enjoyment.
I was rushing through life, and I realized that it was the rushing through life that had created a dangerous side effect. It’s the high speeds of race cars that make them more dangerous. It’s the high speed of your heart rate that causes a lot of danger to your body. It’s the speed that we have created for ourselves that causes danger. And it is the speed at which we move through our lives that has created stress and anxiety for us. Making us dull to all the wonderful small experiences that can only be seen as we slow down.
I believe that the speed at which I am moving through life is actually making death come closer to me when all else seems to be moving further away from me. It is the rush I feel to finish my work as quickly as possible that makes me stress out, and therefore gets my body closer to death. Yet that rush also moves me further away from the actual experience of working. Further away from the actual experience of living. And it is this that I wanted to share with you. That rushing through our lives creates the dangerous side effect of never really feeling alive.
Part One: The Faster You Move the Less…
The faster you move the less you are able to take in. A race driver moves at such incredible speeds that he isn’t able to notice the flowers next to the road. Or the people cheering him on. Now he loves driving, so it does make him feel alive. But if he did this for longer periods everything would become like a big blur to him. He would lose more and more of his focus, and might even crash.
In some way, I believe that the same is true for our day-to-day lives. Although rushing through some things might buy us time, and doing things quickly can be exciting and challenging, doing them for longer periods will do us more harm than good. It’s the same as the driver. The longer we move at high speeds the more life becomes a blur, the more we lose focus, the less we start to enjoy it, and the higher the risk of actually burning out and crashing.
It is this that I was experiencing myself on a daily basis. I felt as if my foot was constantly clung to the gas pedal. Almost feeling unable to stop. Rushing through my life. And that a crash was going to be inevitable. I didn’t want to step off the gas pedal and stop. All I wanted was to keep going but at a slower pace. And for that, all we need to do is release the pressure on the gas pedal. Allow ourselves to relax more. We still move forward as life was intended, but with more enjoyment of the beauty around us and less likely to crash and burn.
Part Two: About 30 Miles an Hour
By releasing that pressure on the gas pedal life seemed to be moving slower. More fuel-efficient. Less likely to crash. More controllable and enjoyable. I could enjoy the drive more. I feel that this is what we need right now. Not to stop, but to be able to go slower. To not rush through our lives, but to drive about 30 miles an hour. It might feel slow, but it isn’t to say that you can’t speed up at times. You can still move up to 100 miles an hour, yet you know that at times you’ll need to slow down again. It’s going back and forth between these two that makes us enjoy both aspects of life.
At a slower speed, you enjoy the smaller things in life more. You’ll appreciate the kiss on the cheek from a loved one. Or laying down in a grass field in the middle of summer. You’ll enjoy the blossoming of the trees at your weekly walk through nature, the fruits on your breakfast, or the cooking of diner together with your spouse. These are the small moments that we can appreciate when we slow down. And then at other times, we can choose to speed up, get a load of work done in just a few hours. Or to go on a trip through a country you always dreamed of visiting, seeing a new place every day. It’s at these moments that speed brings value to our lives.
It’s just that speed isn’t the only way to live. It will consume fuel at a much faster rate, making us feel drained and tired. And that’s why decided to release that pressure on the gas pedal can do a lot of good to our lives. Life might feel slow at first after shifting down gears, but in a couple of hours or days, you’ll discover all the beauty that is found in slowing down.
Part Three: Fewer Breaks, and Crashes
Over the years I also discovered that going 100 miles an hour without shifting down will create more danger of breaking and crashing. Of losing your focus and crashing on the side of the road. The car in this case is our body, which will break down, wear down, and eventually crash if it continues to go at this speed. By rushing through life we put that pressure on ourselves, our vehicle in life. We start to drain ourselves and feel tired, and at some point, we will crash and burn. We will burn out, or get depressed, or get sick. Our body breaks down, just like a car does over time. At high speeds, the car breaks down faster, loses more fuel, and you, as the driver, are quicker to make mistakes and crash.
It’s the same thing that happens to our body when we go 100 miles an hour each day again. We need time to both refuel, and to shift gears. To slow down and maybe even get out of the car at times to enjoy the view. To see where we’ve gone, to reflect on the roads we have driven and where we want to go next. It’s not worth it to let our cars, our bodies, break down to the effect of rushing through our lives.
We will make more mistakes at high speeds, the slightest of steering mistakes can have a massive effect. We can hit the side of the road and lose control of the wheel and end up crashed, hurt, and in the hospital. Let’s not do this to ourselves. Let’s take the time to enjoy the ride, slow down, and release the pressure on our gas pedals. We will still move towards our goal, our destination, but with fresh and beautiful memories of the road that lead up to it.
Our lives are too beautiful to let them deteriorate and crash. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, it could well be that you are rushing through life. That you are moving at a high speed. In these moments let yourself slow down. Release the pressure on your gas pedal. Maybe even take a break and refuel your body. Allow yourself to enjoy the view, to enjoy the roads you are on. Enjoy what you are doing, appreciate all that you’ve already seen, and be excited about the things that are yet to come. Even at a slow pace, you’ll get where you want to arrive, but with more experiences stored in your heart from the journey you’ve taken. And with those experiences of the beautiful road you are on, you’ll be able to say Today I Lived. I made the most of it.