Be Quick, But Not in a Hurry

It's important to take the time needed to slow down and be mindful in motion.

Posted Jan 01, 2018

We are obsessed with time so I promise this is a quick read. Usually we're trying to "save" time so we can be faster, get more done, get to more places, or see more people. It's all about rushing around. Commercials inundate us with ways to save time and be more "productive", whatever that really means.

In 1657 the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) wrote a letter that was "longer than I intended because I didn't have time to make it shorter". Pascal's presumably ironic comment hits at a fantastic point--it takes more time and effort to actually be more efficient in terms of quality.

In 2017, 360 years after Pascal's pithy quote on quality, I decided to implement something similar in my own life. I decided to slow down. Slowing down wasn't something I had been particularly good at but some health issues made it necessary for me to explore. While it wasn't easy, and it did take extra time and effort, my reflections on outcomes reveal that it was well worth doing.

Because this wasn't easy for me to implement, I realized I had to make it harder for me to hurry. (In a different context, I discussed many of the ideas below in my "Exercise is Evil" posts).

Here are some of the things I did to be "mindful in motion" this year:

--drive in the right hand lane on the highway (instead of the left hand "passing" lane) so I'd be less inclined to (moderately :)) speed;

--biked to places I'd normally drive;

--walked to places I'd normally bike;

--did my writing with pen and paper (old school!) as a first draft so I'd have to write slower (I type crazy fast);

--"single-tasked" as much as possible by working on fewer projects.

Like so many things in my life that have grounding in martial arts practice, in my 2017 "year of living slower", I discovered that the efforts to slow down were necessary to complement my other activities. I move quickly in martial arts but the yin/yang of training also means there's a necessary time for moving slowly. Power must be balanced by yielding, each in proper measure and at the right opportunity.

By forcing myself to slow down, the lack of balance I had in my life was more clearly revealed to me. Over the course of the past year I have been able to integrate a more balanced approach more fully in my life. While it hasn't been easy to do, it has been worth the effort.

Which brings me back to martial arts. Decisive action is critical in many situations but rushing is typically not. Rushing leads to too many errors and overall a stressful sense of self. My personal philosophy is that life is definitely a journey, not a destination. So why was I hurrying everywhere all time?

I see now that my year of slowing down actually was in sympathy with one of my favorite martial arts quotes: be quick, but not in a hurry. If you have the time and opportunity, I suggest you give it a try in 2018!

(c) E. Paul Zehr (2018)