I fear we are a society plagued with a need to hurry. Chronically rushing. I fear we lose sight of the value in patience, in moving slowly, in simply pausing…in stopping.
I’ve noticed, in my line of work, that elderly women sign their names very differently than do middle-aged women, and entirely differently than do girls of my generation.
When an electronic signature is needed elderly women oftentimes take too long perfectly scrawling their names, artfully curling each cursive letter, dotting each “i” and crossing every “t,” and the machine times out before they’ve finished. Oppositely, women of descending age sign quicker and quicker, the younger they are. Oftentimes the autograph is no more than a slam of the pen to the screen, saving a dash mark and calling it a day. They can’t be bothered to stay for their receipt, or to ask me to “please” toss it for them.
This generation is plagued by chronic rushing.
We are always, or almost always, in a hurry. On the road, in the grocery store, eating lunch, cleaning house, cooking a meal… I have read over and over again, and written myself, recommendations to slow down and savor one’s food. The benefit is inarguable, in terms of digestion and peace of mind, and yet we must remind ourselves of it time and time again. Calling to mind the image of a quintessential fifties dinner table, parents and children gathered for mealtime, sitting and eating, talking, no television on, table manners intact…flash forward to what one might consider a “typical” modern day dinnertime and the scenario could include anything from fast food to no dinner table to something resembling the fifties depiction to standing and eating. They say standing and eating is one of the most distracted ways to have a meal. Fueling our bodies, nourishing our souls and bonding with one another is what occurs over mealtimes, and yet we are constantly bombarding that sacred space with distraction, technology, travel, and toxic food.
Similarly, we oftentimes can’t be bothered to slow down and sign our full names at the grocery store. No matter that the electronic signature pen writes thick and fuzzy letters, resembling etch a sketch art. That’s not the point. The point is that we’re in such a darn rush to get from the checkout line to our cars where we will promptly get in line to leave the parking lot, huddled to our steering wheel, cursing the line of traffic and everyone else who’s rushing.
Where does it end? We’re rear-ending one another, injuring one another, cursing at one another, ignoring one another, faces buried into smart phones and laptops and planners…how do we reprogram ourselves to slow down?
I don’t mean to make us out to sound like grumpy, impatient, selfish robots. We’re not. We’re loving, giving, feeling human beings, we are. But I see us so quickly turn into these robots, we so quickly moan and groan when we accidentally press “no” to the “do you accept this transaction” on the checkout screen, grumbling, “it’s different everywhere you go…I though it asked me if I wanted cash back…” brewing mental agitation, conditioned to succumb to impatience and the perfectionism of rushing. If we slow ourselves down, damn us! If someone else slows us down, damn them! If the Universe places obstacles in our way, and those slow us down, damn those obstacles!
Blame. Blame. Hurry. Hurry. Smash, fender bender, dammit now I’m late and I don’t have time to go to the auto shop… We always end up making it about time.
“I don’t have time to get sick!” I say this one all the time, and it sounds dumb slipping out from between my very own lips; who really has time to get sick? Who ever thinks, “Oh thank God I got sick today, I didn’t have time to feel this crappy yesterday, good thing I’m sick today. Thank goodness!” We’ve become programmed to always see slowing down as “time lost.”
It’s time to rewire our thinking patterns, it’s time to program “slowing down” into our motherboard.
Have you ever been camping? You know that slow, easy, mellow vibe that comes with being in the wilderness for a week, away from technology and civilization…away from mirrors and time schedules and text messaging…away from work and traffic and hurrying. There’s no hurrying involved in camping. We could benefit from employing an element of camping ease in our daily lives. We could benefit from acting a bit more like little old ladies, now and then. Rarely rushing on the road, never ever in a rush when walking, taking their sweet time in the checkout line. Make it an attitude. Like a sweater pulled from a hanger in your closet, shimmy into that attitude when the rushing begins to smother you. Pull it on over your head and sink into the slowness. It’s never comfortable at first, but maybe it’ll become habit. Maybe it’ll even spread. Make the person behind you in line slow down a little, breathe a little deeper. We even rush our breathing, some days never getting our lungs to full capacity, resulting in endless yawns and deoxygenated brains. Get a lungful, slow your pace, get comfortable with the uncomfortable!
It’s a challenge, but with practice maybe we can make for a calmer next generation. A generation who will sign their names nice and slow, with care. A generation who knows a brand of ease we’ve forgotten. We can create that, with practice. We can manifest anything we dream of, with practice and attention.
So next time you find yourself too rushed to sign your full name on the electronic check out screen at the grocery store…slow down. Stop for a moment. Call forth your Little Old Lady Camping Attitude. Sign your full name, every single letter, and give the checker a smile.