What's Your Hurry?

Eric Hoffer wrote, “The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, rather, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life.”

Today, most people live in the fast lane of life. Like a daring downhill ski racer, they hurl down their own slippery slopes, sometimes recklessly out of control, speeding toward a destination not always defined. Yet, they’re impatient to get there, wherever that is. Mainers love that time-honored poke at tourists, “You can’t get there from here.” In its simplicity, it says a lot, no interpretation needed, the message clear, to those who listen.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” I wonder, why do we do this? If life is fleeting, then why rush it? Something about hurrying through a short life makes no sense.

In “The Blog” section of the online HuffPost Healthy Living site, M.J. Ryan wrote a piece titled “Recovery from hurry sickness.” She said, "We don’t have to be victims of hurry sickness. We do have all the time we need—and from this patient mind zone, we can reclaim our time, our priorities, and our ability to respond well to life and all its demands. With patience, we’re in the driver’s seat of our lives."

All this reminds me of the time-honored cliché, “Stop and smell the roses.”

It seems that everything is urgent related. We tell our kids to hurry up. We purchase instant coffee. We seek out the express and do-it-yourself lines. We suck down fast food, instant gratification for our bulging tummies. We take speed reading courses. We get free pizza if it’s not delivered in twenty minutes. We’re in and out of the mall restroom in twenty seconds, charging on to buy and buy. We act like NASCAR drivers careening down the highway to work, yet studies show that at least seventy percent of people winning the lottery would change their jobs. It’s all about fast forward, the EZ Pass Lane of Life. You call a friend and ask, “Can you talk?” The response, “I’ve only got a second.” Or, you meet a friend for breakfast, to catch up. After thirty minutes, she pushes back from the table. “Got to go.”

Terri Guillemets said, “One can see clearly if one is going slowly, quick motion creates a life-blur.” I like that, “a life blur.”

Imagine a trooper stopping you on the Maine Turnpike. He asks for your license and registration. You look up and utter these self-serving words, “Sorry officer, I’m in a life-blur moment.” The trooper throws you a bedrock professional stare and says, “Huh? Life-blur?” Any chance of avoiding a ticket just blew way past the posted speed limit sign.

Our hurried existences stretch beyond life’s speed limits. I found this telling tidbit in the Headlines and Global News site: “Chinese hurrying to give birth before unlucky year of the sheep.” See, even the pursuit of pleasure gets a speeding ticket.

Perhaps the lyrics from the group “Alabama” sums it up:

I’m in a hurry to get things done Oh I rush and rush until life’s no fun All I really gotta do is live and die But I’m in a hurry and I don’t know why.

I asked my fellow columnist Waldo Clark, who with wit and wisdom, writes “Just Pondering,” for his thoughts on the subject. “Hunter, hurrying equals anxiety, stress, and worry. It creates tension and this takes its toll on the nervous system which impacts the digestive system. Bingo, you pass gas. The fanny wind gets people to hurry away from you.” 

But, there’s good news in all of this. You see, here in Maine, particularly with our seniors, we demand that life slow a bit. It’s part of our healthy perspective on life. It’s a mental attitude, a peace of mind. We live and let live, we embrace a sense of community and belonging. With a strong sense of place,  we slow our pace.

Think back. Your Maine grandmother, at some point, with a knowing smile, told you, “Slow down, dear. It’ll get done.”

Think about this Maine visual, a self-reliant lobster fisherman heads out on the dawn tide under the struggling first rays of golden sun, leaving behind the grays and shadows of the night. His sturdy boat of many years moves forward, steady, slow, and resolute, towards an honest day’s work, pushing through deep blue waters, cutting between dark green clad islands. 

E. B. White said, “My tractor is quite old now and has faded to a pretty color—zinnia pink, like a red shirt that has been much washed.”

As I sit on my porch, I see the lobster boat and tractor with my senior eyes. These vibrant visuals, like a Maine watercolor, settle me. Although there are things to do, I plan on hastening slowly. My dog, Dash, helps to set the pace. He runs, he walks, he stops, in the moment, balance in the life blur. He might even glance up at our friend the owl, who looks down at us, observing this controlled motion of man and his dog. We see and set the pace together, in measured moments of time.

Bill Caldwell, revered author and columnist, in his Maine on my Mind, said it best describing anchoring off an island: “Finally clouds obscure the moon. So I go below and sleep, with the ocean lapping at my ear, locked out by the thickness of a wooden plank. Before the first light, I’m back in the stern watching the sun rise out of the Atlantic, a huge orange globe, a great and wonderful gong heralding a new day coming. And, I know that here in a Maine island cove, I’m getting the first kiss, feeling the first warmth, of a new day aborning in America. And I brim with another surge of love for Maine.”

Life’s pace, anchored, right here in Maine.