Most of us have heard the fable of the tortoise and the hare; they race each other, the hare boastful of his speed rushing ahead and the tortoise choosing to move at his slow and steady pace. In the end, the tortoise is triumphant, leaving the hare in its dust. Of course, imbedded in this sweet tale is a lesson for all, regardless of age. Why all the hurry; why do we think faster is better? Why do we buckle under the weight of urgency, trying desperately to get from here to there? And what can we do to slow down and enjoy life?
As in the tale of the tortoise and the hare, rushing towards a destination can be detrimental to the journey. The hare has not thought out his plan properly; he is overly confident in his abilities and feels he can take rests in between, while the tortoise moves at a steady albeit slow, pace. If we are consumed with being first, we may miss the beauty inherent in life. By missing important lessons we may find ourselves back at the beginning and having to start all over again. How will we truly learn or enjoy our experiences if we are travelling at a hundred miles an hour?
Even the simple, everyday activities that used to take time can be achieved in the blink of an eye. For instance, eating a meal used to resemble a ritual; a time when we would sit, relax and refuel. The growth of the fast food industry and convenience meals has enabled the average person to eat on the run. Some families even eat at different times to each other due to their busy schedules. Everyone is busy, rushing from one appointment to the next. But how can we enjoy life at this rate of momentum?
Perhaps we don’t like the feeling of being left behind. It makes us feel small, insignificant and vulnerable. If we are surging ahead it gives us a sense of purpose, however misplaced that sense of purpose may be.
Oftentimes, many of us deceive ourselves by thinking the more we can get done in as little time it takes to get it done, will be beneficial for us. By adopting this approach we deny ourselves the experience of enjoying life. When we have tunnel vision and are too focused on our next move, we miss what is happening in the present. We miss the here and now, which is the only place life plays out.
Slowing down can even affect our pursuit of individual goals and dreams. When we are rushing around, getting things done, we may miss signs or coincidences offering clues and help towards reaching our dreams. If we are speeding through our day, factors leading to major life-changes or bringing us that one step closer to success may elude us.
Stopping to smell the roses may seem idealistic but the phrase surely contains some truth, or it would not be so well-known. Perhaps it is impossible for some to slow down, as the demands on our lives are a lot different to the demands placed on people centuries ago. However, we can always learn things from history and adopt the methods or qualities we see fit to enhance our experiences. Just like the timeless lesson in the tale of the tortoise and the hare.
If, when we become aware of our conscious urge to rush through the day or if we feel the desire for a quicker pace creeping up on us, we can always stop and change tactic. We are all responsible for our own actions after all. Lulling into a state of atrophy is not the way to get things done either; keeping balance is key and moving at a pace that allows you to enjoy your life as well as achieve your goals is more desirable.
Think it out, slow it down, create balance and enjoy life as it unfolds, as we all know how fast time passes without any insistence from us.