I Advocate Taking Things Slowly, However…

There’s merit in taking one’s time, but you should go fast too, whenever the moment calls for it.

image of a girl in a canoe on a still lake for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

There’s merit in taking one’s time, but you should go fast too, whenever the moment calls for it.

Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.

I love the moments and days when I have nothing to do. I like to take my time, contemplate more meaningful things or read. Of course, it’s not possible to do completely nothing; I’m always doing something. It’s just that my dominant state of mind around what activity is valuable has shifted.

I can be idle in the middle of the day, and it feels ok. I can take a nap when I feel like it, stay up late and take a lie-on until 10 am if I choose. A few years ago, however, that wasn’t the case.

There was a particularly anxious state of urgency that hung over me whenever a Tuesday rolled around, and I had no appointments. Saturdays needed to be workdays, and if they weren’t, then I wasn’t busy enough. I remember in my mid-twenties visiting my GP about it. She tried to prescribe me pills — I declined.

These dominant, flawed ideas of value became gradually worse over the proceeding years until the micro economy of my business gave me little choice but to stop. From early 2014 I spent much of my time staring out the kitchen window in consideration of things that were once important and no longer were.

It was like a long-press reset button.

Today, I’m thankfully not driven by the same things. The lure of material gain and status no longer sit at the front of my mind. Time too is not the same concept that it once was. Different things motivate me.

On Sunday, we were driving home from my parents’ house, and my son asked me what it was I liked to do the most. I’m unsure where the question came from, but probably had something to do with the fact we were passing by the front gates of his school at the time.

I had to pause to consider my answer. Even now, as I consider it again, I can’t define it. We discussed it, and I threw a few things out there like, reading researching, writings, thinking, and he suggested that my primary interest was learning new things.

I think that’s accurate.

In that space where I’m gathering information and considering what exactly it is that I and everyone else I know is living, I am motivated or I am not.

So I tend to go with it, whatever it is I am feeling. If I feel the draw of something, then there’s no stopping me — I’m all in. If I don’t, I’ll mooch about until something grabs my interest.

It’s an ebb and flow thing, and it’s not something I instigate. Instead, it’s something I join, like a canoe in a river.

If I’m energised to create something, then you better get out of my way or join me, because I’m moving fast. And if I have little interest in something else, then there’s no amount of outside influence will encourage me to get on board.

In this sense then, there is a time to move and get busy and a time to relax, and in large part, I am not in charge of that.

Now, this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go to my desk when I feel uninspired. It also doesn’t mean I can’t use outside influences to motivate me. On the contrary; sometimes we need to force ourselves out of inertia.

For example;

About a year ago, I decided to get back in shape. I used to do CrossFit, and run marathons — lots of them — but stopped back in 2015 after I picked up an illness. In the intervening time, I did very little for fitness. I had accumulated some extra conditioning, and I felt it was time to sort that out.

So I joined a local powerlifting gym. Classes started at 06:15 am and although I’m not great for rising early, if I have committed to others, then I’ll almost always follow through.

The booking app for the gym doesn’t allow late cancellations, and not turning up just isn’t an option for me. So even though rising at 5:45 am is a turn-off, I’ll do it anyway, and I’ll almost always feel better for it.

This life we’ve decided to live is not conducive to total isolation, and although I enjoy my own company over being with others, I’d be a fool not to recognise the benefit of getting out in the world. As such, sometimes we are brought up against things that we don’t like, but that’s part of the game.

Sometimes we need to move fast, and sometimes we need to move slow, and in that interaction, we somehow have to find a balance of mind. Because you see, there’s no forcing the world to change. We either have to learn how to ebb and flow with it, or we encounter prolonged inner conflict. Deciding when to move fast in our work or move slowly is about coming to terms with it all. It’s a feeling thing; it’s about finding equilibrium.

It’s certainly not about obedience or conformity, or forcing yourself to do things that feel off. But it is about recognising that even though you don’t feel like hitting the gym, for example, that there is a benefit.

However, I’ll admit I still have some personal conflict around my motivations to move fast or take my time.

When I move fast, and others are not up to speed, or just flat out disagree with me, I can get under their skin. When I move slow, others can get frustrated with my lack of urgency.

And you know what, their reaction is none of my business so I won’t try to manipulate a more desirable response. It is what it is.

The most important thing for you and me as we work, is that we retain personal integrity, and accept that means pissing others off sometimes.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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