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The Cult of Speed

In this hurry-up and get everything–and more–done society, researchers have found that American adults actually overestimate the number of hours they work and underestimate the amount of free time they have. While people may have more free time than they realize, most report feelings of what is called time-famine, “Too much to do and not enough time to do it.”

Many are living life as if it were an emergency: texting while waiting in the ski lift line, paying the bill and calling for a taxi while eating dessert at a restaurant, leaving a sporting event no matter how close the score is to get ahead of the traffic. It seems so clever, so efficient, to do two things, or more, at once. However, multi-tasking often means doing two things, or more, not very well.

In his book, In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honore stated, “In this media-drenched, data-rich, channel-surfing, computer-gaming age, we have lost the art of doing nothing, of shutting out the background noise and distractions, of slowing down and simply being alone with our thoughts. Boredom — the word hardly existed 150 years ago — is a modern invention. Remove all stimulation, and we fidget, panic and look for something, anything, to do to make use of the time” (pg. 11).

So what are we to do? This is our American culture? We have so much to accomplish! We can’t help but be irritated when others are so slow, or situations arise that keep us from getting things done!

Here are a few ideas to consider: Are you are living as if your life is an emergency? How is this working for you? Our children are adversely impacted by our negative emotions and reactions to our own frustration of a world filled with so many demands. They are all too often pushed to do more and more themselves.

Recognize that feelings of time-famine, while genuine, are not necessarily related to the actual number of free-time hours available. What do you want to do differently? You can choose to consciously appreciate the simpler delights of life as they occur. That’s time-savoring! You can enjoy the taste of good food, the warmth of the sun, the presence of good company, and the delights of fun and silliness, in others as well as yourself. Time-savoring moments can be found in the smaller chunks of free time that perhaps are now being used by cooling out in front of the TV or catching up on the computer.

Of course, we have the Sabbath!* At least some do. Can it help one experience the attitude of rest that is so badly needed? Why or why not? Could it be a matter of your own perception?

Could the cult of speed be influencing how you approach the Sabbath? How we pace ourselves during the week is directly related to how we spend Sabbath. Is it time to re-align some priorities? Could a Sabbath rest include shutting out the background noise and distractions, or simply slowing down and welcoming a time to be alone with God and your thoughts? Could a Sabbath rest also involve more time-savoring (and meal-savoring) times with friends and family? I invite you to think about it, and I wish you many blessed Sabbaths!

*Sabbath is a biblical concept where God invites people on a weekly basis to spend 24 hours with him in nature, in helping other people, in worship, and in spending time with family and friends. It is supposed to be a time of rejuvenation and healing.  

“Slow Me Down Lord. Remind me. . .that the race is not always to the swift, that there is more to life than measuring speed.” W. A. Peterson

Susan E. Murray writes from Berrien Springs, Michigan.

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About Susan E. Murray

Susan E. Murray

writes from Michigan.

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