I was on my way home from work one recent Friday & traffic was heavier than usual. The university students were moving back in after summer break before rush week. Public & private schools started back the next week plus the university’s summer graduation ceremony was happening that weekend. So a lot of traffic and a bit of a shock to the system when you’ve been used to the summer pace of traffic.
I was in the right lane and was needing to get over to the left lane before my left turn coming up. I put my blinker on and was just starting to shift lanes when in my mirror I saw this truck quickly speeding up in the left lane, almost out of no where, so I stayed in the right lane. The truck flew past me.
The first thing that popped in my head was the Alabama song “I’m in a Hurry.”
I’m in a hurry to get things done.
I rush & rush until life’s no fun.
All I really gotta do is live and die,
But I’m in a hurry & don’t know why.
I shook my head & wondered why he was in such a hurry. He didn’t have his caution lights on so I’m assuming he wasn’t rushing due to an emergency. And his tag said he was a firefighter. But here’s the funny thing. There was a traffic light up ahead, and when I got to the red light guess who I pulled right up behind? Yep. The firefighter in a hurry.
I have a friend who drives the speed limit. She never hurries when she’s driving. It’s one of the things I respect about her. Anytime I’m feeling rushed to get somewhere I think about her and slow down. I also remind myself of information I’ve seen about traffic lights before: that if you drive the speed limit you will hit most green lights. Sure you might hit a red light, but for the most part you will get mostly green lights. I’ve tried it. In Birmingham traffic and I have to say I hit mostly green lights. So I think there is something to it.
What would happen if we were intentional about slowing down with everything? What if we slowed down and were very present in our work tasks. I know for me personally I almost always end up making a mistake when I’m rushing to get through the task. What if we stopped and watched the sun set or watch a butterfly flit from flower to flower? What if we took a deep breath and calmed our minds and slowed down?
You see rushing and hurrying aren’t going to get us where we need or want to go any more quickly in life. We will still get caught by red lights, literal & figurative, no matter how fast we are going. Maybe if we stopped rushing and stopped to take in the extraordinary moments that happen in our every day ordinary lives then those red lights in life wouldn’t cause us so much frustration. And who knows. We might not even experience some of them because we are not rushing around trying to get to some unknown moment in the future. What if we went the speed limit not only on the road, but in our actual lives.
When we hurry, we are rushing to a future moment and cannot be present in the here and now moment. Hurry is a state of the heart. It keeps us from seeing the people and moments right in front of us. It tempts us to look at people as nuisances instead of a person made in God’s image. It keeps us from seeing nature as God’s beautiful creation. Most of all, it deafens us to God’s voice. God’s voice is not in some future moment that hasn’t happened. God’s voice is always in the here and now, but we can only hear it if we slow down. We can only hear it if we are present in the now.