For the last few days, ever since reading James Bryan Smith’s “The Good and Beautiful God,” I have been intentionally and ruthlessly eliminating hurry from my life. And boy is it hard. I’ve trained myself for as long as I can remember to Be Productive. Accomplish Tasks. I bore easily. What’s not boring? Working under the pressure of an impending deadline. If on Monday my deadline is Friday, then inevitably I waste hours of time checking twitter, Facebook, walking down the hall for a Diet Coke, looking up the latest celebrity gossip… I can’t seem to focus on my document when it isn’t due for a week. But on Wednesday? Crap. On Wednesday I realize how behind I am, and finally I’m able to get serious about doing the work. On Thursday I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. so I can get in the office for a “bright and early” start. I’ll still be sitting there 16 hours later because the deadline is TOMORROW.
By Friday my stomach is in knots, I’ve made life pretty darn miserable for my secretary and everyone working around me, and I finish with minutes to spare just as the deadline approaches. “I’m never going to do that again,” I promise myself. But, just like New Year’s Eve resolutions, I break that promise, too. My excuse? I do my best work under pressure. At least that’s what I tell myself. And when the deadline is looming over me, I don’t have time to be bored.
Never leaving myself a second to spare is an old habit, and one reinforced by a work environment that requires me to bill every tenth of an hour until they add up to at least 1800 hours of billable work, not counting the administrative, business development and other non-billable hours that must also be done. My internal pressure to be productive is presumably happy I’ve chosen a field that makes its demands for my productivity so clear. I’ve always hated to waste time. But maybe it’s more wasteful to rush so fast through life striving to accomplish tasks that I fail to enjoy the minutes that I do have here on earth. Maybe letting myself be bored is what’s required for me to really be fulfilled. Maybe boredom is a symptom of hurriedness. And if I eliminate hurry, I’ll eliminate boredom, too.
Reading Chapter 9 of Smith’s book really spoke to me. Made me realize that I’m not appreciating the life God gave me, the world He’s blessed me with, the quiet time to reflect and get to know this world I’m surrounded by.
Rushing, stressing, producing — all of that may enable me to check off more boxes on my To Do list but is not leaving me enough time to appreciate this beautiful life. So I’m resolved to leave five minutes early, and if I arrive early at my destination then I’ll just take a deep breath and spend the extra time appreciating this beautiful world. This week I’m trying to eliminate hurry. Ruthlessly. To soak in all that surrounds me.