Friday, February 6, 2009

High Speed

Today I'm going to discuss an oddity in our culture, the term "high speed." I suspect this came to mind because my husband and I finally joined the human race (pun intended) a couple of weeks ago and switched to a high-speed connection with regard to our computer. It has been a fascinating adventure. Before we made this change, our computer was reminiscent of a mule stubbornly trudging up a muddy hill against the wind; downloading anything took hours. Now it surfs the web at breakneck speeds, bringing to mind a chaotic internet freeway where things happen instantly.

My son and his wife send us pictures and tiny movies of our new granddaughter and within seconds, we can access these treasures. I can now watch all of those You-Tube clips friends and family members have sent, and I have enjoyed watching clips of some of my favorite bands performing. High-speed does have its advantages. That said, I am going to raise a yellow flag of caution.

Back in the early days of the world, or when I used to attend elementary school, we learned that two terms were direct opposites: slow meant one moved gradually or leisurely. Speed indicated that things were hurrying along at an accelerated pace, or according to my good friend the dictionary: "Speed is the rapidity of movement; the rate or swiftness of motion or action."

At a young age I read a story about a slow-moving, patient turtle who literally beat the stockings off his nemesis, a rabbit who moved like the wind, but was evidently not the sharpest knife in the drawer. The speeding rabbit raced about the turtle, mocking his slow movement, dashing off ahead to take a nap to prove how much faster he was than his opponent. As we all know, the turtle went on to win the race, and we were taught the adage: "Slow and steady wins the race." Hmmmm.

Another image was planted inside my young mind. At the early age of seven, I began reading Greek mythology. It was part of the programmed reading curriculum at our grade school. I devoured the stories that were intriguing to me at the time. One of my heroes was Mercury, the Greek God associated with speed. If you read the definition (the link you see available in that last sentence) from Wikipedia, you'll see the following phrase: "The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile, or unstable, derived from Mercury's swift flights from place to place." Interesting. Also interesting is that a popular floral delivery service uses Mercury as its symbol. I wonder if they've read the definition of their mascot?

In today's society, we want things to happen instantaneously, forgetting that good things come to those who wait, yet another axiom of a by-gone era. We want our food fast, (And isn't it mind-boggling to put those two words together---they are direct opposites. Food indicates eating, and fast means that we abstain from consuming meals.) Even when we choose to eat at a nice restaurant where the food isn't cooked until we order, we still expect our food to be placed in front of us in less than five minutes. When it isn't, we pout . . . a lot, and take it out on the poor waiters or waitresses who have the delightful task of keeping irate customers happy.

We find ourselves growing impatient whenever we stand in line, regardless of the reason. We may be in a grocery store, at an all-purpose super center, at a drug store, at the bank, or in line to watch a movie, play, sporting event, etc. This common pastime annoys us greatly. We want things "NOW!" We've come to expect instant gratification in all aspects of our lives. That may not necessarily be a good thing.

I realize I'm probably a throwback to days of yore (incidentally, I'm only 47, not quite ready to be put out to pasture) but I enjoy the days when I don't have to run quite so fast. I like taking the time to read a good book, and to possibly write such a thing. I savor listening to good music, and I love playing games that take forever like Risk or Monopoly. And as wonderful as I understand the instant exercise programs like the famed Wii are, I still prefer going for a leisurely walk outside, enjoying nature.

Slowing things down in a world that is constantly finding new and improved ways to increase speed is a challenge. I often find that I am running faster than I have strength, and as memory serves, we are cautioned about that item. (See D. & C. 10:4) In fact, we're encouraged to spend some time every day pondering what is really important.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I spend time each day studying the scriptures. I also prayerfully ask for guidance each day---usually several times in a given day depending on the circumstances. There is no way to improve or hasten this important item, aside from being sincere and not rushing through our daily chats with our Father in heaven.

To my way of thinking, it is crucial to walk away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and reflect on where we're really going. Perhaps this new favorite thought of mine: "Life is what's happening when you're too busy to notice." (Wayne Muller) is really onto something.

My favorite way to relax is to soak in a nice bubble bath and read a good book. That's how I start most of my days. I endure a form of rheumatoid arthritis and I've discovered that when I take the time to relax in the tub, I'm in less pain the rest of the day, and I can move about in a better fashion. This is good. =) I tend to pay for the days when I jump in the shower for 3 minutes before hurrying on my way. This lovely body that I've been blessed with, has been teaching me for years the wisdom of taking time out each day for important things. ;)

What are some of your favorite ways to relax and unwind? (This is a hint.) Regardless, I think it's crucial to spend time every day doing just that. Take an exit from the high-speed freeway our lives have become, and learn to enjoy life all over again.

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Cindy Beck said...

So true! It's so important to anyone who is trying to create something to slow the pace. You simply can not write literature, music, or paint beautiful paintings if you don't take time out to relax and recharge.

Unfortunately, gone are the Mayberry days of sitting on the front porch with friends, drinking a glass of lemonade and visiting.

I miss that world of long ago.

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Cheri, you've hit it right on the head! There's never enough time because we have to do fifty million things all RIGHT NOW.

I'm afraid if we blink, things are gone, over, never to come back. Your post gives me permission to enjoy each moment. :-)

Cheri J. Crane said...

You're so right, Cindy. I miss that slower world, too. ;)

And Nancy, here's to savoring life in the slow lane. =D Think we can figure out a way to avoid those 50 million things that clamor for our attention?