I’ve been indoctrinated into the culture of speed and busy-ness. Sometimes, I think I’ve hurried through life without really living it.
Why is it so hard to slow down? Speed is fun, right? Slowing down could be equated with being lazy or not being mentally alert, or worse, with getting old.
I constantly busied myself with something. I filled my head with distraction all day long. Was it so I didn’t need to ask myself whether I was happy or content with my life? If I put those questions to the back of my head, then I didn’t have to think about them, isn’t that it?
Doing nothing, or even just doing one thing at a time, seems to be taboo in the Western world. At the gym, I sought out exercises that work the most body parts simultaneously so no time was wasted. I listened to Ted Talks rather than music in order to build mental acuity. Never mind that I couldn’t remember most of the content, I could just listen to them again. I told myself that this is preparation for a time in the future when my mind will benefit from the brain training I do now.
Racing through meals, I ate standing, sitting at the computer or watching a film. I didn’t taste the food. (It all tastes like chicken anyway!) I’d even found ways to prepare meals faster. I would hardly prepare anything from scratch any more. Prepared food is the answer to a hurried life!
Realizing how many training years that Tai Chi requires, I strived to find ways to master it faster because I certainly don’t have a lifetime left to me. Regretting that I hadn’t learned to dance decades earlier, I searched for ways to fast track those lessons as well.
Working with slow internet speeds ironically sped things up by forcing me to multitask. While waiting for sites to load, I could review Kanji charts or make never-ending lists of things I wanted to research online when the speed improved.
I’d figured out how to fill every bit of available time. I’ve been a champion of not wasting a second. I’m even good at making excuses for all my never-ending activity. I’d fallen into the path of Human Doing-ness.
Traveling has taught me there’s no need for constant busyness. I’ve learned to stop for the sunset seen from our balcony over the bay in Ahmed, Indonesia; for the end of the rainbow in Bo-Kaap, Cape Town that could be seen from our bedroom window; for dolphins jumping off the starboard rail while sailing the English Channel; for the sound of rain falling on the ancient grave markers of the spiritual mountain of Koyasan, Japan; for the live Halverson Passacaglia (my favorite) played against the crashing waves with the 7900-foot Quingshui Cliffs as a backdrop.
Can I slow down? Can I choose the here and now? Can I find a way to become a ‘human being’ and not a ‘human doing’?