New motto: you need to slow down in order to move forward
We live in a frantic, fast-paced, eat-or-be-eaten, shit-or-get-off-the-pot kind of world. And it’s counterproductive.
In the modern age, people expect instant everything: instant social media updates to show everything you're doing, instant gratification/likes to validate everything you're doing, instant answers to every possible question, instant responses to every text, instant and incessant every-speck-of-news channels, instant traffic updates with expectations of every green light, instant political poll results to show every mood swing, and even instant ramen that's ever so basic.
But what does instantaneousness get us? The instant answer is usually thoughtless. An instant update takes you out of the moment. Instant gratification is typically insincere. Instant ramen never tastes as good as the real stuff.
In short, the instant world gets us nowhere fast.
I propose we slooooow doooooown.
I've had to learn to slow down the hard way. I’m a fairly active guy and I try to stay at least somewhat fit, but for years my exercise routine was crafted for expediency, particularly around jogging.
Going for a run can be a great way to burn calories and I've written on the mindfulness benefits I gained from it in the past. But I also often used it as a way to absently power through an exercise just to get it over with. If I didn't stressfully rush through traffic to my typical spot at the reservoir to stomp out a lap, I would opt to run on the streets near my house, exacerbating my shin splits on the unyielding pavement. I never quite stretched or warmed up as much as I really should have and I started wearing those hip new minimalist shoes that provide very little support, without giving my legs time to get used to them. I did all this while training for a half marathon in an expedited schedule.
It was a risky recipe. By the end of that marathon, my shins, my ankles, arches, heels, toes, and hips were all quite angry with me. They all pleaded with me to slooooooow dooooooown.
So I did. Following the half marathon I went on a long solo camping trip I called "Journeyman." Instead of running quickly through all the beautiful natural environments I visited, I hiked and did so thoughtfully, deliberately, soaking it all in.
By slowing down not only did I get the benefits that exercise brings to your body, I got the benefit of spiritual renewal that's always available when you commune with nature. I was able to find mindfulness with each step, and to this day hiking inspires most of what I write on these pages.
My personal parable is applicable to all sorts of situations in our modern world: when we take a moment to gather our thoughts before responding, our reaction is more authentic. When we stay in the moment instead of jumping to Facebook to post a photo of every event, we get to relish in it. When we don’t expect a digital thumb up for every social media post, we feel more confident in our self worth. When we're patient on the road, we're able to chill and let road rage shift to road relaxation. When we wait in line for 30 minutes for the good ramen place, our tongue is happy and we’re more satisfied, and that's just fact.
Patience is a virtue, in all things. Don’t fall for the immediacy trap our modern technology has set out for us. Slow down, so you can move forward.
The other day I spent some time on my phone.
I took a few minutes updating my reminders and to-do list...it's a busy time of year.
I scrolled through Facebook and Instagram, a like here and a like there...keeping up with friends.
I checked how many steps I had taken that day...exercise is key.
For a second there I felt productive, but then I realized, I hadn't really done anything at all.
Updating a to-do might tell me what I need to get done, but it doesn't mean I'll actually do it.
Liking a post on Facebook might remind friends I exist, but that's not actually keeping in touch.
Keeping track of how many steps I took gives me a calorie count, but rarely does it encourage me to walk more.
During the time I spent on my phone I could have worked on a project, gotten lunch with a friend, or gone on a hike, actually achieving the things I pretended I was achieving with my phone.
There's motivation to be found on our modern devices for sure, but don't let it fool you into reliance. Get off your ass and do real things. Real things are how you really move forward.
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