There’s a flashing sign ahead of me as I drive on the highway. It’s orange and bright — a sign warning me of the construction that’s coming. Words blink across the screen. When I read them, I almost cry.
Slow down, it says.
Immediately I press my brakes, watching my speedometer drop. I move over to the slow lane. Cars rush past me. I wipe my eyes.
Slow down, the sign said, and all I can think is: I wish I could. But there’s too much to be done, isn’t there? Things like graduating from college or pursuing the North American dream. Things like planning another art show and applying for internships and trying to figure out how to make even the smallest indent of impact on the world.
My friends got engaged this past week. It shook me — because for some reason their engagement made me realize how fast time flies. My friends are old enough to be engaged? To buy a house? To be a family?
Wasn’t it just yesterday that I was 18 and in Rwanda, dreaming of all the things I’d someday do?
Then I blinked and here I am: almost 24 and fresh out of college, with no concept of how on earth I got here so fast or where I go from here.
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day,” Dallas Willard said. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
Isn’t hurrying exactly what we, as North Americans, do? Every time I leave my house, I don’t give myself enough time to get anywhere without going over the speed limit on the highway. I take the fast lane. I go through a drive-through in case it’s quicker. I brisk walk to my classes.
There is no stillness, no silence, let alone any chance of no hurry.
My phone tells me what’s happening in the world immediately. Everything in my life feels instantaneous. I hardly have to wait for a thing, and when I do have to wait — say, for my car to get an oil change — I do it impatiently, thinking of all the things I could be doing instead.
When did our lives become more about doing and less about being? At least, when did mine? How have I missed the days of winter turning slowly into spring?
One of my assignments in school was to list a five year plan. (This just about gave me shingles considering I don’t even know what I want to do the next month.) The entire assignment was to come up with all the things you’d like to do within the next five years of your life. I thought of idea after idea: write another novel, write a non-fiction book, write a children’s book, travel to each continent, host more art shows, create a documentary, and more. There were smaller things in there too, like: go to the gym three times a week, write a little bit each day, read more Canadian authors, and read a book a week.
As I was creating my list, I couldn’t help but think, How will I have enough time? Is the answer to jam more things into my life? Or is the answer, perhaps, to slow everything down?
John Mark Comer says, “Hurry is a form of violence for the soul,” and I’ve found this to be true. The feeling of always being connected to the world because of the tiny computer in my back pocket causes me to feel more hurried, anxious, and haggard than I ever thought I could feel.
I don’t want my life to be curated and instagrammable.
I don’t want to blink and have ten years go by, only to feel as though I haven’t truly lived.
I don’t want to constantly be hurrying, hustling, and trying to “make it,” just to come to the conclusion that “making it” was a lie.
We’ve got one short, precious life here on earth. I’ve decided I’m not going to spend it hurrying. Jesus didn’t hurry — in fact, He actually took very long amounts of time to do something, or talk to someone, or pray. And considering my entire goal in life is to become more like Jesus, I’d like to stop hurrying too.
My new five year plan is this: slow down.
I’m taking the slow lane on the highway now. I’ve removed notifications from my phone so I’m not constantly distracted by the world inside a tiny computer. I’m noticing the smell of spring, and the buds on trees, and my nephew’s new dance moves. I can feel the breath of God within me and around me. I will not give into hurry any longer.
Slow down, the sign says, and I am.