Nothing Worthwhile will Catch Up With You
Nothing Worthwhile Will Catch Up With You
Patt Schwab, Ph.D.
Pause that Refreshes. Remember that phrase? What
ever happened to those pauses where we admired a
sunset, laughed with a friend over a beer, or
shared the Coke the phrase encouraged?
lost them. We let technology weasel them away from
us and in the process have become a crabby, nasty,
me-first nation of soreheads. How often a week do
you hear the word "mean-spirited"? How often do you
loss of the "pause" contributes mightily to our
confused national response to life. Look at us: the
economy is basically good, the deficit is going
down, statistically even crime is dropping. In the
last year we peacefully resolved international hot
spots in Korea, Cuba and Haiti and yet EVERYONE IS
TICKED OFF. What gives?
you lose the pauses in your life, you lose the good
things. Not only do you not have time to do them -
to cuddle with your kids on the couch, to toss
around ideas with a co-worker over coffee, to read
a good book by the fire - you also lose the time to
emotions take more time to experience than negative
ones. And since we need to feel "something," we
turn our frustration into anger. Anger's fast. It's
easy to get a quick emotional fix. All you have to
do is cut someone off in traffic, yell at a talk
show, or make a nasty remark to a store clerk. You
spout off, you get a little adrenalin rush, and
bam, it confirms you're alive. Whether your target
deserved the anger is unimportant.
anger, especially when it's misplaced, doesn't
satisfy for long and so we have to get angry again.
Hence, a nation of soreheads.
positive emotions are far more satisfying, but they
take far more time.
major emotion love, requires time to grow and
mature. And the expressions of love - a knowing
wink, a welcome backrub, a hated chore done without
complaint - need to be acknowledged. That, too,
Remember pride? Now there is one for the endangered species list! We used to feel pride in our accomplishments, or the accomplishments of others: our task force, our sports team, our children. It's not that as individuals or as a nation, we don't have things to feel proud about. We don't feel pride because pride needs to be savored and we don't have that kind of time.
start our next project before we finish the current
one, we watch three ball games simultaneously on TV
and barely know who wins, and we yell at the Little
League referee's close call because we think it
shows our child we care.
We are a hurried people. Whether logging on to the information "highway," tossing back a "double espresso" to relax (!), or listening to a talk show host appropriately named "Rush," things are going too fast to make sense.
We long for the old days because life was slower, there was time to assimilate new ideas, personalities or technologies. We didn't have to pace ourselves. Life did it for us.
we moved from typewriters to word processors, from
wall crank phones to car cell phones, and even from
stoves to microwaves, we lost assimilation
littlest changes can cost us. Think of the move
from buttons to zippers to velcro. We lost a pause
myself, the biggest adjustment has been from US
Mail to a fax machine. It used to be that when I
sent that check or letter off I knew I had a couple
of days - maybe a week if the other party had to
respond. Now I get faxes from a colleague in the
Netherlands that, given our time difference, I
receive nine hours before he sends them!)
book, "Timelock," Ralph Keyes says: "The cumulative
effect of eliminating one opportunity after another
to catch our breath is to create a breathless
society." Our brains may have resented the pause to
change the paper in the typewriter, or to wait for
a call to go through or a radio to warm up, but our
nervous system liked it. We need to find ways to
reclaim that pause.
Rapid change is here to stay. If you want to master it, pace yourself. Give yourself the gift of some assimilation time. Pause to share a joke, buy some flowers, walk around the block. Count an unappreciated blessing: your health, a good neighbor, an old car that keeps running. Use new technologies to your advantage. In the old days we washed our hair once a week because it took so long to dry. Then we invented hair dryers. Now we shampoo daily.
the technology of a hair dryer saved us any time?
No. But you can use it to your advantage. Put this
additional time to work (or rather, to rest) by
allowing yourself an extra reflective moment in the
that information "highway?" Get a grip! It's only a
term. You can choose to think of it as a 1990's
German autobahn with no speed limit or a 1950's USA
Route 66 with Burma Shave signs. Take control. Stop
once in a while, stretch your legs, have a picnic
at an electronic bulletin board.
With stimuli coming from all directions, real freedom is the ability to pause, to take a deep breath - maybe two deep breaths - and decide where to focus your energy. Ask yourself, "What are my options? Where do I want to be in the long run? What do I need to do to get there?"
can be the Master of Your Universe or a Poster
Child for the Breathless Society. It's your
Today's changes cannot be mastered in an annual two week vacation. They must be met in little ways every day. Make the time to savor the good things in your life. If you don't pause, nothing worthwhile will catch up with you!
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