Going Slow

Going slowly does not come naturally to me. I was born 18 minutes after my mother’s water broke. I would get up 15 minutes before I had to be out the door for most of my life. I prided myself on my ability to multi-task, and do all of it efficiently. Efficiency, that’s something that came naturally. I made my living helping other people be efficient. Why couldn’t efficiency be “what the doctor ordered?”

I do think efficiency is going to resurface as being of primary import in my journey, but not until  I get this Slowing Down thing under control.

Control. Now there’s another subject. And it relates to Slowing Down, especially as an efficiency-junkie. I would look at people going slowly or leisurely or inefficiently in any way with such contempt as a young woman. Why couldn’t they speed up, do it well, and do it right the first time? If I could just have controlled everyone and everything, the world would have been a smooth-running machine, producing God-knows-what, but it would’ve been efficient.

I can remember distinctly as a child thinking that school was teaching us to do everything right, because grown-ups and institutions did everything right already, so we had to learn to do it that way to fit in. If we didn’t do everything right, I guess I thought we’d fall off a cliff. I also remember wishing for a watch that played The Flintstones.

Boy, was adulthood a shock. Grown-ups and institutions that “did everything right” had apparently gone extinct, and the world was just a hodgepodge of mediocrity. You were lucky if you got what you ordered in a restaurant. All those things my high school teachers told me I couldn’t get away with in college? I got away with that and more. So did everyone else. There was no smooth-running machine. It was all a myth.

It was a myth that stuck with me, though, even after I learned that it wasn’t true. Even as I embraced the concept of slowing down, those drives and values were so deeply embedded in my being that slowing down itself became a sign of defeat. Yeah, it was good for me, but it also means I lost. Yeah, it would have benefits, but it also robbed me of what made me special and what gave me any chance in the world of achieving anything I’d be really proud of. I fought this mentality in deep mind-to-mind combat for years. I’m still fighting it, albeit more and more subtly. The tools that got me through the most intense aspects of that transition will be detailed here as the writing goes on.

 

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