Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hurry Sickness

With all the technology and gadgets available to us these days, you would think that we would have an abundance of free time where we do nothing but sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. But this is certainly not the case in my life. Some days I feel like if I'm not doing three things at once, then I'm not accomplishing enough. My day seems to go by so quickly that before I know it, it's time to go to bed again and my brain is swimming with all the things that didn't get done.

People are often in such a hurry that if you take a minute to concentrate on what you're doing it almost feels like you are getting in the way. You barely have time to put your wallet back in your purse before the cashier at the grocery store is ringing up the next customer. Sometimes when the person behind me is impatiently inching forward, I just want to say "um I'm actually still standing here so you'll just have to wait 30 seconds!" In his book The Life You've Always Wanted, John Ortberg calls this constant rushing about "hurry sickness." One of his examples is something we've all seen (and done) where we try to guess which checkout lane or traffic line will move the fastest and then we get pissed when we're wrong because God forbid it might take us an extra minute or two to get where we need to go. Last night I was watching an old Ellen Degeneres stand-up routine where she talks about this very topic. She jokes about all the multi-tasking and says in reference to driving while talking on a hands-free phone "don't you think that if it takes both hands to do something, your brain should be involved too?"

There are times when I take the time to smell the proverbial roses and I make an effort to give my daughter my full attention as much as possible. She is at a stage where she often provides helpful reminders if my mind is elsewhere. There's nothing like screaming at the top of her lungs to bring me back to full focus. I hope that I get better at taking my time as I get older and not better at hurrying. I think when life is consumed by rushing from one thing to the next, you are prone to missing the little things that matter most. To me that seems like such a shame.

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