Fast is how I did everything during my college years. I supported myself, so I raced from home to class to job to class to job, repeating this all day long until I had to race home and study. On Thursday night, I sped away from my university campus to another one several hours away to be with my boyfriend until Monday morning when I woke up before 5 am to race back to my first class of the week. The summer before my last year, I decided I needed to quickly take the last few credits I needed, so that I could graduate in December instead of the following May. I bounced from job to job, looking for the elusive “life” that I had spent my twenty-something years sprinting toward.
As the years passed, I collected life experiences through marriage, moving far away from home, having a child and receiving a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. In the same way that I finally realized going 20 mph over the speed limit only saves you a handful of minutes, I began to realize that the mad dash from one minute to the next was getting me nowhere. It’s exhausting to always be in a rush. It’s stressful to my family when I’m rushing for no reason. Sometimes, rushing is a sign that I’m manic.
I’ve learned a few things along the way. Most of the time, not starting the dishwasher before I go to bed does not constitute an emergency, nor does finishing my current book just so I can start the next. If I am not ready to get out of the bed, the dog will have to wait. If my son needs something and I’m in the middle of something, he can either wait or figure out how to do it – he’s old enough. If I want to rush through buying the groceries, I better go early. If I rush my son to get his shoes on quicker, it will take him longer.
Knowing that I tend to get in an unnecessary rush does not altogether prevent me from doing it, but it makes me aware that I sometimes need a timeout. Sometimes I find it utterly depressing to think that I’m rushing my way to death, that I’m not taking the time to enjoy the journey.