Why We Should Slow Down

Whoops… I did it again.Molly Totoro

I was about 95% recovered from my January accident, when I tripped over the dog in the kitchen and broke my right shoulder.

We sat down to an Italian anti-pasta dinner and a glass of Chianti, but I decided we needed plates. I hopped up from the table, took two steps towards the cabinet, tripped and fell.

In hindsight, we did not need the plates.

I love symmetry, but this was ridiculous. The break was almost identical to the shoulder break in my left arm. The second I went down, I knew I had done it again. I didn’t hear a pop, I didn’t feel the break, I just knew this was the worst possible déjà vu.

Fortunately, I wasn’t home alone. My son helped me off the floor and into the car. We drove to the ER just like we did five months ago.

While waiting for the inevitable news, I asked him, “What could I have done differently?”

His first comment was kind and consoling: it was just an accident. Then he thought for a moment and added, “Maybe you could’ve slowed down.”

Two weeks later, those words continue to ring in my ears. Out of the mouths of babes they say. They are right. My son was right. I need to slow down.

I have studied time management for years. I am an organized person by nature, and addicted to busyness. “I don’t know how she does it all,” is the highest compliment.

My daily challenge is to complete as much as possible in as little time as possible. Efficiency is the name of the game.

It wasn’t all that long ago, a decade perhaps, that I was in the thick of life. I was a full-time teacher, a full-time parent to three teenage kids, the caregiver of my aging mother. My day began at 5 AM and I collapsed in bed around 11 PM.

Nearly every minute of every day was filled with responsibility. I could barely take a step without looking at my planner. I felt as though my life were a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. My planner provided the guidance to fit each piece.

I wouldn’t run an errand, even take a trip upstairs, without taking the time to consider if I could combine activities for greater efficiency. Life was hectic, and my brain was on constant high alert.

Old habits die hard.

I am retired now. We are officially empty-nesters. I am no longer the caregiver to aging parents. Yet I still strive to be as efficient as possible. My planner is still my guide.

When I stood up from the table to get those plates, I was in a hurry. It was time to eat and I had to keep to the schedule.

Be efficient, Molly. Get it done, Molly. Don’t dillydally.

In reality, how much time did I save? One second? Five?

I’ve been looking at life all wrong. It is not the time I save that matters.

It is the time I savor that is important.

No one cared about the plates but me. We could have eaten without them. I could have taken my time to bring them to the table, and no one would have thought less of me. The meal would not have been ruined. The relationships would still be strong. And I would not be out of breath and mentally exhausted.

How much of life have I missed by rushing around trying to complete the tasks on my to-do list?

I find satisfaction in checking off the task rather than joy in doing the task itself. In fact, I’ve been known to add tasks to my list just so I can check them off.

stress - relaxWhat do I gain by living life in a constant horror of motion?

I may accomplish much, but at what cost? The accident taught me this frenetic lifestyle is harmful — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It is time to get off the self-made roller coaster. I can no longer believe the lie that busyness is next to godliness.

Busyness, in fact, robs me of God’s peace.

There will always be chores to do, responsibilities to accept, and people to serve. God has equipped us to accomplish His purpose. But He has also given us adequate time to complete that purpose.

Each day is a gift from the Lord, and He desires we find joy and beauty in every moment. We can’t do that if we treat life as a sprint, rather than a marathon.

It is time to slow the pace: stroll a little, linger a while, take a few extra moments to savor the joy in the everyday. Saving a few extra seconds is not worth the sacrifice.

©2016 Molly Totoro for GateWay of Hope

Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.