I come from a family that does not “stop to smell the roses.” My parents, brother, sisters and I can best be described as a “Let’s get this done!” family or, at worst, a “Let’s get this over with!” gang. As adults, we called my dad “Vince-Half-a-Cup of Coffee” because when he’d visit us he’d agree to “just half a cup—I have to get going.” On one unforgettable occasion, he admitted that he was “rushing even though I don’t know what I’m rushing for.” That, indeed, is the question: what’s the rush?
I believe I eat too fast because a full plate looks to me like a task to be accomplished. I make decisions quickly so I won’t keep some imaginary foot-tapper waiting. There’s always the impulse not to waste time. It often feels uncomfortable to simply sit and read—but reading while walking on the treadmill, now that’s productive! All this rushing leaves precious little time to enjoy the present. I am lucky to have friends who are not so twitchy. Morella, a painter, sees shadows and gradations of color everywhere. Heidi, a world traveler, notices all the different nationalities who use our city park. My sister Liz never misses a bird and can identify nearly every one.
In December 2014 I wrote here about the meaning of “making time for time.” an expression I learned from a French friend about for practice of taking time to appreciate the time we have on this earth. It is the antithesis of rushing. It’s taking time to stop and smell the roses–or, in the case of the French, drink the rosés. I think they’re onto something.