Speed

Here is a beautiful piece of prose that I have found really helpful over the last year – well worth a read and some time to reflect:

 

SPEED

 

Speed has compensations.  Speed gets noticed.  Speed is praised by others. Speed is self-important.  Speed absolves us.  Speed means we don’t really belong to any particular thing or person we are visiting, and thus appears to elevate us above the ground of our labours.  When it becomes all-consuming, speed is the ultimate defence, the antidote to stopping and really looking.

 

If we really saw what we were doing and who we had become, we feel we might not survive the stopping and the accompanying self-appraisal. So we don’t stop, and the faster we go, the harder it becomes to stop.  We keep moving on whenever any form of true commitment seems to surface.  Speed is also a warning, a throbbing insistent indicator that some cliff edge or other is very near, a sure diagnostic sign that we are living someone else’s life and doing someone else’s work.

 

But speed saves us the pain of stopping; speed can be such a balm, a saving grace, a way we tell ourselves, in conscious ways, that we are really not participating.

 

The great tragedy of speed ….is that very soon we cannot recognise anything or anyone who is not travelling at the same velocity as we are…….We start to lose sight of the bigger, slower cycles that underlie our work.

 

We start to lose sight of family members, especially children, or those who are ill or infirm, who are not flying through the world as quickly and determinedly as we are.
 We forget that our sanity is dependent on relationships with longer more patient cycles extending beyond the urgencies and madness of the office.

 

A friend falls sick and in that busyness we find their interruption of our frantic lives frustrating and distracting. On the surface we extend our sympathies, but underneath we are already moving in a direction that takes us far away.  We flee the situation even if we are sending flowers every day; we rejoin, thankfully, the world that is on the go, on the move, untouched by mortality.

However, through whatever agency it arrives in our lives – a broken limb, the loss of a loved one, the collapse of our business, a moment of humiliation in the doorway of a meeting room – our identities built on speed immediately fall apart and disintegrate.  We find ourselves suddenly alone and friendless, strangers even to ourselves.

 

David Whyte “Crossing the Unknown Sea”.

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