When I was in Paris, I missed out on the Musée d’Orsay Museum even though I spent an hour walking through the building. The Musée d’Orsay Museum is certainly one of the Top Art Museums in the world. It houses extraordinary works from all the most famous Impressionists and… it is constructed from a converted train station. Just the architecture is magnificent.
But I mostly missed it. Oh, I saw all of the paintings and took a cool photo from inside the edifice, but I didn’t really see anything.
I was in a hurry.
My Mind is Not HERE
You know, it seems like I am in a hurry just about all of the time. Rarely do I drive the speed limit because I am rushing to be somewhere, or trying to squeeze in a Starbucks before my next appointment. I even rush to complete my morning meditation routine—now that’s really funny—so I can get to my “to-do” list (which I hate, hate, hate).
In fact I can be fully enjoying my morning until I fill in my task list for the day and then find that I immediately fall into a depression. I rarely do what I’m doing because while I’m doing it, my mind in on the next thing I have to do. It’s really efficient, but totally without satisfaction.
Too Much is Too Much
I feel horrible for most of my readers in their 30’s and 40’s—you’re in the summer of life, the high-producing years. You’re making money, raising kids, growing your careers, buying houses, and planning vacations. Basically you are booked 10-14 hours everyday. And it feels as if you never have any time to do anything. You’re always rushing to the next thing.
Honestly, this is a shitty way to live. But what choice do you have? Your life is demanding. How can you get anything done without being efficient with your time—which seems to require “hurry?”
When Finishing is More Important than “Doing”
Dallas Willard, one of the great philosophical minds of the last 50 years challenges the American mindset: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. Hurry is the great enemy of the spiritual life in our day.”
In the highly regarded book, Dark Night of the Soul, the author reminds us that God is in no hurry. He has an eternal mindset while we are in a temporal one. God can afford to take his time. After all, he has eternity to get things done. But we have this “temporal mindset” that keeps us “in a hurry.”
I don’t think we can be conscious, intentional, or mindful when we’re in a hurry. Anxiety to finish an action takes over and “finishing” becomes more important than the joy of the action itself.
There is a monastery I’ve visited semi-regularly for the last 30 years, St. Andrews Abbey in Valyermo, CA. They have a habit that shocked me at first. Every day consists of 6 occasions for community prayer. 10 minutes before prayer a bell rings. At that point every monk immediately stops what he is doing. The cook stops peeling the potato halfway through; the reader stops reading mid-sentence; the artist stops painting mid-brush stroke. At the bell, they all get up and walk to chapel to pray.
And you know what? All the work for the day gets done. And what’s not done today will be completed tomorrow. They have no lack of productivity. They are wholly involved in what they are doing and are ready to switch gears at any time. “Hurry” is unknown.
When “Hurry” is Self-Induced
You most likely live in a hurry. But think about it. What would happen if you didn’t complete your “to-do” list? Probably nothing. You’d just do it later and no one would know the difference.
What if you devoted one week to no hurry? Just a test. Tim Ferriss offers a really good question to ask of your tasks, “What is the one thing I could do today that if I completed it, most all my other tasks would seem irrelevant?” I love the idea behind this question.
In fact, I have a suggestion (or two) for you.
The “One Week Test”
- Make your daily to-do list. (I actually do one each Sunday night and try to make a to-do list for the week.)
- I then mark each item with a “must,” “should,” or “could.”
- The “musts” make the top of the list with the “shoulds” and “coulds” following. Now that doesn’t mean I put all the musts on Monday. I spread them out so that each day contains at least one.
- And then… I begin to focus on not hurrying. I either start earlier or accept the fact that I will be late.
- Prepare everything the night before.
- Select your clothes for the next day and put them in one place in the closet.
- Pack your briefcase or any materials you will need for the next day.
- If you prepare a breakfast, set out all the pans and non-perishable items.
- Make sure you car has enough gas for the day.
NEW NOTE TO ALL: Just this morning before publishing this post, I make a 1 month commitment to myself. (I think you have to be self-employed, but if not you can improvise.) I have decided to make every Thursday, “Creative Thursday” which means I can only write, read, paint, go to museums, meet with creative friends, make films. I can only do those creative things “I love to do.” NO TASKS!!! I’ll keep you posted–literally.
Nothing Ruins “Right Now” Like “Hurry”