I was traveling this past Monday and had an experience that made me think I was on a NASCAR racetrack.
On my way through a town in South Carolina I was in the middle lane of a busy road. There was a car behind me that was so close I could count the bugs on his windshield and the dents in his bumper, which made me very nervous.
He finally pulled out and went around me in the right lane and back in front of me. When he moved close to the car that had been in front of me, he then pulled to the right lane again as we all had to stop for a traffic light and he and I were side by side. I tried not to stare.
When the light turned green, he was off to the race again, weaving in and out. We came to another traffic light and there he was next to me again. Then he took off again, and I assumed there was logical reason for his hurried behavior. What happened next was nothing short of amusing. We both turned into the same gas station. All of his hurrying was not because of an emergency but evidently due to habit. My suspicion was confirmed by the number of dents in his car. Why the big hurry?
But I can’t be too critical of the fellow – his way of driving was entirely too reflective of the way I do life in general. It may not be quite so obvious in the way I drive; but, it shows in so many other ways.
And, much like the man with the dented car, my “hurriedness” is due more to habit than necessity. Somewhere along the line it just became characteristic of my life, and my guess is that I am not alone.
In some therapeutic circles it has even been given a name, often called “Hurry Sickness.” Often, it’s a result of being too tied to the clock and trying to do too many things at one time. The stress that comes from this kind of behavior is significant and the result is often a reduction of our effectiveness. And, the adage becomes reality that “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” It is so true.
Part of the problem is that our hurry becomes such a habit that we are not even aware of it. Part of the sadness is that people who are overly time-oriented live in the future and not in the present. When we are constantly in a hurry, we fail to notice the moments of beauty along the way. For example, the leaves have now fallen. Their beautiful color is gone until next year. Did we really make time to take it all in or were we too much in a hurry to get from point A to point B?
Now we are fast approaching a very powerful season of the year. Will we truly take it in or will be we in such a hurry to get our various checklists accomplished to really enjoy the moments?
I might add that it is not incompatible to be goal-oriented and also have a reasonable sense of time. Balance is the key.
The writer of Ecclesiastes said, “For everything there is season.” That means on occasion there is a season of hurry. But when it becomes habitual, the other seasons are consumed by our “Hurry Sickness.”
We are fast approaching a season that provides opportunity for both habitual hurriedness and incredible joy. The choice we make will be the difference between angst and pleasure.