~ awake in this moment, at home in the world ~

No Hurry at All

August 15, 2008
It's Friday evening - pizza night. I'm standing in the garage with my 10-month-old on my hip, a diaper-laden backpack on my shoulder, and a large, hot pizza box sizzling in my hands. My four-year-old sits in the car, playing with wipes.

"Let's go," I say. "It's supper time." He dawdles in that fabulous, timeless, what's-the-hurry mode of a contented four-year old. My shoulders tighten.

"Come on, Bud," I snap. "We need to get a move on."

Truth is, we don't need to get a move on. I'm uncomfortable at the moment, yes, but we don't have any reason to rush. We have plenty of time left in the day to eat our pizza, plenty of time before bed to enjoy our mid-summer's eve. This sense of hurry, I wonder as we trample into the house, where does it come from?

Later that night, after being awakened by first one and then the other boy, I pull out my headphones and tune into a dharma talk by Gil Fronsdal, one of my favorite Buddhist teachers. He opens this talk on lovingkindness by explaining that the first step in shedding the crustiness around our hearts is slowing down. If you want to sow the seeds of lovingkindness, he says, change your attitude about time. The world softens and opens when you slow down and offer your loving attention.

I lie in bed, a small heart beating on either side of me. I swallow hard as I consider how often we rush, even when we have nowhere to go and all day to get there. I consider how often my sons will feel hurried as they grow, and I offer a big thank you for the many moments as youngsters they have to linger in the eternal now. At the moment we live as open and unfettered a life as I can imagine. So why am I always pushing us forward at a breakneck and over-caffeinated pace?

My four-year-old is still young enough to look up at me with dreamy eyes and ask, “Is it morning or are we getting close to bedtime?" Or "What day are we in?" And even occasionally, "Did we just have Christmas or is going to happen soon?"

I long to be so firmly planted in the here and now that I am able to forget the ticking kind of time is all about. I wish I were a better lingerer, a lollygagger, able to just sit and let life unfold as it will, slowly and without much of an agenda. And I feel remorseful about the many times I've rushed my children out the door for no good reason but my own grown-up impatience.

In the dark of the night I pledge to let my kids dive more fully into the present moment, to kick the habit of dragging them forward at high speed without good reason. I vow to let our next month be “Going Nowhere Slowly” month, a time when I will let my children teach me about slowing down, about opting out, about lollygagging in the little delights that make themselves apparent only when one's eyes are focused resolutely in the present moment.

In the coming season, we'll give ourselves permission to opt out of running at the speed of everyone else’s life. We'll make the most of the phrase, "We have nowhere to go and all day to get there."
I know we’ll be happier and less strained when I learn to idle my inner engines a bit. I know our breath will soften and our sense of time will grow larger if we let the spinning legs of time run on away from us, and commit ourselves to simply soaking in the glorious now.

So here's to a "No Hurries, No Worries" season ahead. Let's settle into the glory days ahead, and let the larger, faster world wear itself out without us.

Care to join us? Take your time getting to our oh-so-slow party. There's absolutely no hurry at all.