Ever since I graduated in May 2013 I've felt like I've been on this constant race against time, trying to pack as much as I could between every 6˚ movement of the minute-hand. I can't quite grasp why, but I've been feeling this pressure to get as much done and accomplished in the shortest amount of time, a state where my mind is already thinking of the next thing to come before I've even finished what I am currently working on. Right now, though, I feel like I just want to pause, take a deep breath, and slow down.
Perhaps my desire to step off the gas pedal has been a result of events that have taken place over the last year, most of which have been completely outside of my control, or maybe it is just a break I feel like I need to take before I start my next sprint... Whatever the case may be, right now I want to pause, take a deep breath, relax, and enjoy what I am currently doing.
Over the last few years I have been sprinting: I've been feeling this urgent sense that if I was not working I was wasting my time... If I wasn't learning new things, if I wasn't building something, if I wasn't planning or saving for the future, then I was being lazy and failing. This has led me to do things such as read like a maniac, devouring one book after other, not watching any television or movies, not following any sport teams, working crazy hours both at work and at the Techshop, etc. Although I don't think it was entirely detrimental for me to behave in the way that I did, I think the motivation and reasons behind my behavior were not entirely healthy or genuine, and it was in a large sense spurred by this idea that I am racing against time.
So right now, I am committing to slowing down for a second, or two.
Now, let this be clear, this post is not about completely changing my behaviors (I still don't intend on watching television, following sports teams, or stop reading), but rather about reassessing my motivations and re-evaluating what my drives and purposes are. A year ago I thought that I was fully in control of my life, that I could prepare and be ready for everything and anything life threw my way and that I would be able to counter all challenges through careful planning and prepping. Sadly, I've never been more wrong! But, luckily, I have learned some incredibly valuable lessons in the process, one of which is to slow down and be fully present at the only time that matters, right now.
By realizing that there is no point to race against time (it is a losing battle no matter how you face it), I think I'll be able to continue doing the things that I love doing, just apply myself in a different manner (without a sense of urgency towering over my consciousness). I believe it will improve the quality of my work since I will be doing things not because I need to get to the next big step, but rather because I have a very genuine and long-lasting interest in doing what I love.
Another positive of this whole process has been a realization that I have been neglecting my health and body to the detriment of cramming more work into the shortest amount of time. Working 12+ hours and then going directly to the Techshop meant that I rarely ever cooked, worked out, or did anything that benefitted my health (even my sleep was suffering). In the process of slowing down I've decided to devote myself to better eating habits (and actually cooking/prepping my meals), as well as a healthy workout routine, the benefits of which are already apparent. If time (or lack-thereof) has taught me anything, it's that there is nothing more important to me than my health (body and mind).
So rather than going further with this post and trying to explain what changes I am going to make, how I've gotten to the point that I am today, etc., I'd rather just leave this excerpt from Alan Watt's lecture "Out of Your Mind" which really speaks to me and the content of this post.
"The existence, the physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. That is to say, it doesn’t have some destination that it ought to arrive at.
But that it is best understood by the analogy with music. Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano.
Why? Music differs from say, travel. When you travel you are trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who wrote only finales. People would go to concerts just to hear one crashing chord… Because that’s the end!
Same way with dancing. You don’t aim at a particular spot in the room because that’s where you will arrive. The whole point of the dancing is the dance.
But we don’t see that as something brought by our education into our every-day conduct. We have a system of schooling which gives a completely different impression. It’s all graded and what we do is put the child into the corridor of this grade system with a kind of, “Come on kitty, kitty.” And you go onto kindergarten and that’s a great thing because when you finish that you get into first grade. Then, “Come on” first grade leads to second grade and so on. And then you get out of grade school and you got high school. It’s revving up, the thing is coming, then you’re going to go to college… Then you’ve got graduate school, and when you’re through with graduate school you go out to join the world.
Then you get into some racket where you’re selling insurance. And they’ve got that quota to make, and you’re gonna make that. And all the time that thing is coming – It’s coming, it’s coming, that great thing. The success you’re working for.
Then you wake up one day about 40 years old and you say, “My God, I’ve arrived. I’m there.” And you don’t feel very different from what you’ve always felt.
Look at the people who live to retire; to put those savings away. And then when they’re 65 they don’t have any energy left. They’re more or less impotent. And they go and rot in some, old peoples, senior citizens community. Because we simply cheated ourselves the whole way down the line.
We thought of life by analogy with a journey, with a pilgrimage, which had a serious purpose at the end, and the thing was to get to that end. Success, or whatever it is, or maybe heaven after you’re dead.
But we missed the point the whole way along.
It was a musical thing, and you were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played."