We all have heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. These two animals go on their race. The hare is all confident he will win because of how much faster he is. The tortoise takes the challenge with a proverbial shoulder shrug. The hare starts off at top speed, and then decides to take some breaks along the way and goof off. Why not? It will take the tortoise forever to get there. And yet, by the time the hare arrives at the finish line, who does he see there waiting for him?
I feel a great many of us symbolize the hare. We race around in a hurried frenzy from one thing to the next. Sometimes we race so hard we lay down gasping, needing breath, a break, maybe even a new life. Going slow isn’t an option because then nothing would get done, so we race even harder, even faster because of all the things we aren’t getting done. We just aren’t fast enough. We’ll never be fast enough.
That’s how I used to think life should be. Where did I learn that mentality? I don’t know. Maybe because that’s how everyone else around me was doing it, so I did it too. It’s the normal thing to do. If you aren’t busy, you aren’t cool. If your calendar isn’t accidentally double booked at least a couple times a month, you aren’t doing enough.
The last few months I have been trying a different way. After all, what was the so-busy-I-could-see-myself-coming-and-going doing for me? It was stressing me out so much I was always sick. It was making me feel pulled in all directions. It was making feel overwhelmed and incapable of sometimes even getting out of bed. I was always irritable and frustrated. I always felt like I needed a vacation, even after I just took a vacation. I never felt like I had time for anything, most especially myself. I felt depleted and completely broken. I could barely function on any level. I was miserable, and an erratic mess. I was sad. I was done.
I have done a lot of things between then and now to change my life around, one of them has been slowing down. WAY down. I took all the things out of my life I felt were obligations, and were weighing me down. And then I started doing the things I wanted to do. I still manage to get the things done that need to be accomplished. But what exactly needs to be done?
For me, it was a whole lot less than I thought.
I’ve replaced the “hurry up and go” with “I’ll get there when I do”. I’ll get there in my time, and at my pace–whatever that might look like. So what if it’s not fast enough for other people? Those other people aren’t living my life. I’m living my life. I’m in charge. I get to say go, and how fast I go.
The same goes for you.
What does it matter how long it takes you to get somewhere as long as you get there?
I have found that in slowing down, in the long run, I actually get more done. Why? Because, I actually care now about what I do. I’m now doing what I want, and not what everyone else wants me to do. I’m also not so tired from running from one obligation to another that I’m exhausted all the time. Those long naps I used to take every time I felt I could slip them in aren’t happening any more. I don’t need them, at least not like I used too. And instead of focusing on things that really don’t matter to me, I now focus only on the stuff that really matters.
And why not?
We have this one life with an unknown expiration date. Why waste it on stuff that we won’t care about when we take that last breath?
Since I started slowing down, I have also noticed that my pace is a lot steadier. I am actively getting things done every day despite doing it slower. I may only get one thing done verse twenty, but I did that one thing well, and I am proud of the accomplishment.
I have a turtle that crosses my yard almost every day. He’s a big guy, and you’d think he’d take forever to make the hundred some feet from front to back. The odd thing is you can’t take your eyes off him. If you do, he’ll disappear. One minute he’s there, and the next he’s made it all the way across. I didn’t believe it at first. I had to watch him a few times to suspend my disbelief. How could a turtle move that fast? It’s because he keeps going. He may stop for a small break here and there, but he keeps on going. Slow but steady, the whole way. That’s why we’ve nicknamed him the Flash.
Is it easy to slow down? Hell, no. Not at all. Even today I catch myself getting back into the old habits of pushing on the gas and going full blast. That’s usually when the Universe likes to through a little hick-up in my plans. It reminds me to slow it down again. I do. And the hick-ups find a way of working themselves out, and all is right with the world again.
It’s been a challenge for me to learn my right pace. I don’t always get it right, but when I do my whole life smiles. Things become easier, and I don’t have to try so hard. It’s in these moments when I know the turtle’s life is for me.