Inertia - Nº130
The paradox of rushing
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
— Bob Moorehead
Why do we rush around so much?
When I look around on my walk to and from work, most people move faster than me. Almost running. Like everyone in London is always in a rush. Like everyone is running out of time. I sometimes understand it: we rush to catch a train or meet a friend. Sometimes, it’s just one of those mornings. Or we’re running late to an event when we tried to be 15 minutes early. But more people keep themselves so busy and switched on as if they're missing out if they do not.
And it: we rush because we feel like time is running out.
People tell you life is short, that our time to live is like a short, burning piece of string. In lieu of it, we rush around, trying to experience all the wonders this life has to offer. But in doing so, we wish our life away for the future.
At some point, we all eventually fall for this trap where, in order to experience life and get the most out of it, one of the things we realise is we need to make money. Lots of it. Because money opens doors. It alone does not make you happy, but what you can do with it does. Travelling the world. Going to extravagant events you used to daydream about. Having a wardrobe full of fresh, high-quality clothes or a healthcare routine you always wanted. While I agree with striving to gain access to these experiences, rushing is the incorrect way.
I notice this tendency to rush around lessens the more I travel north to the more rural areas of my country. Or when I’ve visited quieter places in Europe. You can see the state of calm in the people around you. The sense of belonging and tranquillity. The culture osmosing into you. You learn to slow down and savour what’s in front of you. You seize the day in a way that’s very different from the busy culture of where you reside. And in a way, these places feel like home.
By nature, we’re creatures of the present moment. You can’t live if you think happiness is a milestone event. It is not something you get after achieving a thing; it is a state of being you choose to embrace right now. And the more consistent you can be with your mood and state of being during any situation, the better you can be at having a rich and genuinely happy life.
We think that by rushing to get what we want and looking for shortcuts, we’ll finally be able to live. One day. But this is where the paradox comes in: We rush to live because we fear the moment we are nearly forced to slow down. We don’t want regrets, yet when we try to do everything, we forget the entire principle of living. We fail to focus on the time we do have because we get so busy focusing on the time we don’t have. You see?
If the ultimate goal is to live, why are you not doing it right now?
I used to loathe Mondays. It’s societal because we inherently place incredible importance on the weekend. But now, thanks to a better work/life balance and learning that every day can be fun, I see it was silly to think that Mondays are bad. And because I know, in future, I’ll miss all of those Mondays I had. Even in my twenties, I sometimes miss the days and weeks I had as a teen.
Plan for the future, but don’t live for it. Long-term thinking is beneficial, and I’m not against it, but no one knows what will matter in three years. Or five years. And especially ten years. Don’t think time is running out—in fact, get lost in today.
Direction is the biggest motivator for many people. Because once you know where you are going, you can trust that the answers will come to you. So then it’s about taking in every minute and hour. Enjoying the ride and knowing you’re going in the right way. From there, time can feel normal, and we can finally live.