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On Rushing

Posted on:September 11, 2023 at 08:00 PM

“Do you ever notice that anyone going slower than you is a moron and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”

That’s one of my favorite George Carlin quotes. And it’s so true: fast and slow are relative terms, not absolutes. Einstein proved this for the entire universe.

In a mechanical way, our time is bound by the laws of the universe. We all get the same 24 hours in a day. A minute lasts the same for me as it does you. Even though it might not feel so.

Temporal awareness, our ability to sense if time is passing slower or quicker, is an interesting asset in our sensory repertoire. With just a few milligrams of a some key compounds: caffeine, adrenaline, cocaine, melatonin, morphine; through small behaviors like breathing, our internal refresh rate and clock speed can change drastically, powering great bouts of productivity, activity, anxiety, and hysteria; or calmness, dullness, numbness, and dementia.

I work best when I’m relaxed, when I’m not rushed or in a hurry. But I’m also terrible at long term planning that requires consistent effort and contribution without seeing immediate results. Herein lies the dichotomy: I want to be slow and relaxed and work at my pace, but I want the world to respond to my command instantly. So that I can evaluate the results and make further decisions. The longer it takes for information to get back to me, the longer I’m hanging in limbo, unable to decide which course of action to take. And while I’m waiting, my life, my minutes, my 24 hours, the very same as anyone else’s, slip away.

I appreciate quickness of wit in those around me. And sharpness. It’s a flavor of humor and intelligence that I innately enjoy and appreciate. It’s fun! Hit me back, play with me, keep up, turn me on. Don’t be offended or confused or hurt. That’s no fun.

But I also appreciate those that can think slow. They have a wisdom which I innately desire and appreciate. It’s deep, and true, and impossible to argue against. It gently reveals the quick-wittedness for the frivolous and pointless entertainment that it is: a way for those who think fast to make their passing minutes more pleasant.

My thinking has slowed as I’ve gotten older. But I haven’t felt slow or fast myself, never at length anyway. Mostly I’ve been in tune, and my thinking has changed aptly with the time and place. My thinking has slowed, not because it is difficult to think quick anymore, but because it is too tiring to go back and fix the mistakes that often come with quick thinking. Thinking it out, and doing it right the first time, is just more efficient.

What’s the rush? Life is short enough, and it will be over soon. No point speeding it up any more than it has to. While some may feel that tomorrow can’t come fast enough, I’m just trying to savor today, and truly feel my minutes pass by.