Slowly is holy

I move too fast. I multi-task. Multi-tasking ensures that, with my attention divided, I am not totally present to anything, especially myself.

by Scott Kalechstein — 

We are seeing a lot of interest these days in slowing down the aging process. We take human growth hormones and state-of-the-art vitamins. We take power walks and veggie juices. But how many of us take our time?

There is a new time-release, super-food-for-thought supplement I’ve been chewing on lately: “The more I take my time, the more time I have to take.” This may boggle the mind for a moment, but a quick review of Einstein and physics will help it make sense. Time is relative, and how fast or slow I experience its passing depends entirely on my state of mind. The presence of peace is found in the absence of rushing, and my peace of mind clearly depends on slowing myself down.

Do I want peace of mind? Is it a priority? Well, yes, it is … but first … . The “but first” is the source of all my suffering.

We live in a culture that any semi-sane observer from another planet would diagnose as having a massive and widespread case of Attention Deficit Disorder. With our DSL connections, microwaves, speed dialing and multitudes of time-saving technological devices, we still are the most frantically rushed and least present civilization ever to grace this planet.

I am a businessman or, on more days than I like to admit, a busyness-man. I plow through my list of to-do’s, e-mails, phone calls and errands with adrenaline as my taskmaster. My Higher Self whispers, “Please, take a breath, pause, slow down, relax the pace, let in some Grace.” I hardly hear it, let alone heed it. Time is money. There’s too much blood pumping through my veins to listen to a still, small voice.

I move too fast. I multi-task. Multi-tasking ensures that, with my attention divided, I am not totally present to anything, especially myself. While brushing my teeth I check my e-mail. While talking on the phone, I exercise on my rebounder. I rarely sit still. I feel like I’m on a treadmill. ADD is not just for kids anymore.

People following the 12 steps often say to a newcomer: “Have a slow recovery.” What’s that all about?

I am an addict. Speed is the drug. It is regularly injected into my daily life. Now I don’t want to sound like I’m not taking responsibility, but it is a pretty popular and socially approved substance in this society. It’s easy to obtain. Teachers at school pushed it, my parents role-modeled it and I see people under its influence everywhere I go.

These days, slowing down and noticing the roses, let alone smelling them, is something many are putting off until retirement.

“The more I take my time, the more time I have to take.” Could that be true? When I operate from the premise that there isn’t enough time, there does indeed seem to be a scarcity of the stuff. But when I relax and go about my business as if there is an abundance of time, well, you get the picture. Time warps and bubbles to accommodate our picture of reality. Time, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder.

Like most external drugs, speed works by stimulating the body to produce its own drugs. Adrenaline is what gets manufactured in the body-shop when the reptilian part of the brain perceives danger. It pumps us up with energy and gets us poised for fighting or running.

Am I driving, or being driven? When on speed, who cares! Acceleration is happening and that’s all that matters. Never mind that I am moving much too fast to recognize my fear as the one pressing down on the accelerator.

When I am rushing, I am running scared, and I am letting fear run the show.

To be honest, a part of me gets off on the power surge that adrenaline produces. How stimulating, to be running around in a semi-manic state, getting things checked off my to-do list in record time. My ego inflates with a sense of importance. If I am busy, I must be a valid person. Worth comes from performance and accomplishment, doesn’t it?

The real question is: can I relax and do nothing, enjoying the simplicity of being alive without an inner voice telling me it’s not enough, that I’m not enough?

At times I feel owned and possessed by a permanently pressed foot on the accelerator, locked in a vehicle with no brakes, no neutral, no park and no time to smell the roses. Can I turn off the juice at will and really stop?

So it seems I am a student back in driving school again, taking lessons at the Slow Down and Follow Your Bliss Driving Academy. The instructor keeps telling me to turn off the engine and recline my seat for a while. Roll down a window, or better yet, get out of the car and stretch.

I’m learning a lot lately about what’s been driving me and the madness of always moving.

Speed kills. It kills the joys of the journey, the hope of peace, and the satisfaction in being present, moment to moment. Speed screams, “Just get there, somewhere, anywhere — anywhere will do, whatever the cost!” Love whispers, “Enjoy the journey, for that is all there is.”

Maybe smelling the roses is not something I can afford to procrastinate. Maybe in the big picture, enjoying the journey is the point of it all.

When we value peace, we certainly will have it.


Scott Kalechstein, M.D.T. (Modern Day Troubadour), lives in Marin, Calif., and lightens and opens hearts and minds for a living. He can be found sharing his musical, ministerial, speaking, comedic and healing gifts with conferences, businesses, churches and individuals around the world. or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 4, August/September 2007.

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