The Zen of Strolling Through Life

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I am a recovering rusher.  I used to rush everywhere. Why? Because I was always in a hurry. I had too much on my plate, too many commitments, and not enough hours in a day. I blame it on fifteen years in the corporate world where I never had enough time to get from one meeting to the next, or from one location to the next but ultimately it was my choice to rush and it turned into a habit.

I became aware of my rushing habit five years ago when I started my business. It was a snowy winter that year so I spent a lot of time going to the gym to run on the treadmill.  I specifically remember one morning after I had rushed to the gym (as I had done many days (and years) before), I was in the middle of rushing over to Starbucks to get a cup of coffee and it hit me: Why am I rushing? It’s 8 AM, I don’t have anything on my calendar until 10 AM, and it’s a phone call so why on earth am I rushing?  The only reason that made sense:  habit.  I was in a habit of rushing in the morning so I could get into the office that it just continued after I started my business and worked from my home.  I didn’t even think anything was wrong with what I was doing because it felt normal to me.  This was my habitual normal behavior, until I realized that I didn’t have to rush anymore.

It didn’t stop immediately. It actually continued for quite some time. Later that year I was going into DC on the metro to see a client. I had plenty of time and didn’t need to rush but suddenly found myself caught in the hustle and bustle of everyone else in the metro station running down the escalator to catch the train that was waiting on the platform.  As I was hurrying down the stairs in my 3+ inch heels, I turned my ankle.  And, I missed the train.  Thankfully my ankle was fine but in that moment I realized that I had no reason to be hurrying – it was the old habit and all the other hurrying people around me that snapped me back into my rushing self.  In that moment I decided that my pace would no longer be hurried, unless there was an emergency or urgent situation that required a quickened pace. Instead, my pace would be a stroll or perhaps a promenade. If I missed the train, I missed the train. The trains come every 3-5 minutes and what difference would that amount of time make anyway?

Five years later I’m happy to say this has become the new norm for me. Does it mean I never move quickly? No.  But it does mean that the majority of the time I am strolling or even wandering.  There is great beauty in this. First, my slowed down pace allows me to actually see and experience my surroundings.  Since the natural pace of lots of busy people out in public tends to be quicker, I also find that I piss people off if I’m in front of them strolling and they can’t get around me. It makes me laugh to myself.  Strolling has created some funny moments for me. The other thing it’s created is a sense of calmness about my energy. When I’m not hurrying, I’m much more relaxed and experience others and my surroundings in a more peaceful state of mind. I am able to people watch and pay attention to where I’m walking without the risk of turning my ankle while hurriedly walking down an escalator.  I also arrive at my destinations much more relaxed.

I do this while driving too. I’ve completely let go of rushing and racing to my destinations. After all, traffic lights are the great equalizer, aren’t they?  The person who flies past me always seems to be stuck at the same red light as me three miles further up the road.  It is also true what experts say about how the energy we put out in the world is exactly what we get back. When I rushed and hurried, I encountered mostly rushing and somewhat frenetic people. When I stroll and wander I encounter a much calmer and relaxed set of people and experiences.  I highly recommend it.  It not only can change the way you experience life but also the way others experience you.

Oh, and by the way, this is also why I have rushing as what’s out on my list of what’s in and what’s out for 2015 and strolling and wandering are what’s in.

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