At holiday time, there seems to be more frenetic driving on the city streets than ever. People zoom through yellow-to-red lights and block crosswalks in the next block. Quickly changing lanes without signaling is common, while cutting off other cars. On a one-way, three-lane road, seeing someone make a left turn from the far right lane always surprises me. These folks must be very stressed or hurried. I have felt that way, when I was working for a regular paycheck job with plenty of responsibility. I know my driving got sloppy, but was it that bad? No. Instead, I banged up the car while parking in our assigned spot of the apartment building garage. Several times!
Today, I came across this and it hit me right between the eyes:
“There is a close connection between speed and impatience. Our culture has become so speeded up today that no one has time to be patient. People in a hurry cannot be patient – so people in a hurry cannot really love. To love, we need to be sensitive to those around us, which is impossible if we are racing through life engrossed in all the things we need to do.” (Eknath Easwaran in “Blue Mountain Journal,” Winter 2015)
I had to read this again slowly. How often am I in such a hurry that I cannot really love? How often am I so engrossed in all the things I need to do, racing through life, that I cannot be sensitive to those around me? This brought up my character traits of impatience and self-centeredness, which I know as rather unattractive parts of my personality. These traits prevent me from being truly present to others.
My husband Jim and I participate in a couples group intent upon improving our marriages. At our last meeting, we focused upon communication and truly listening to our partners. We each shared about the barriers to truly listening, like being preoccupied with smartphones, televisions, computers, iPads and other electronics. Putting work first or the “to do list” or hurrying also get in the way of what we say matters most. During the following days, this conversation made me focus on slowing down and putting down my electronic devices, when Jim started speaking to me in order to really be attentive to him. I was not 100% successful, but I improved. I could tell that Jim was making an effort to listen well too. “Love is an act of the will. That’s why you say, ‘I will’ at the wedding ceremony, rather than ‘I do,'” I tell couples whom I am going to marry. (I am a clergyperson.) And love takes time. My New Year’s Resolution this year will be about slowing down to be more present in the moment and to love better.
May you live life at a sustainable and healthy pace.
May you intuitively learn how to balance your needs and the needs of others.
May you be able to love yourself, your neighbor and your Higher Power in equal measure.