FESTINA LENTE

Make haste slowly.

Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.

The race is not to the swift. (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

These are the words I whisper to quell the anxiety that dwells in my subconscious on those mornings when I wake up with a start, the lub-dub of my heart like a chastising parent admonishing me for sleeping too long. “Not ambitious enough, not driven enough” echoes in time with the pulsation of each beat.

These feelings arise from the rubbing of shoulders with the world, the friction wearing thin my resolve to be true to my ideals. The world has an agenda: wealth, position and prestige over and above all else. Die trying. Publish or perish (I am an early career academic). Drenched in the sweat of a society constantly sprinting that has obviated the need for pause, I forget that I am enough.

On days like that, I have resolved to whisper to myself,

Being unstoppable has nothing to do with speed”

These words exorcise the demons that possess my subconscious; the nerve-wracking feeling that I am not putting in enough work, not grinding or hustling or whatever the current terminology for fervent, ambition is.

There is a fever-pitched scramble for achievement in our day that gives one a cause for concern. We are often so fixated on the destination, we never take time to appreciate the journey. Caught up in the scramble for the next promotion, the next pay raise, the next position, we never quite let the stage we are at transform us. Yet it is the most important thing, transformation.

Chefs know to taste better, the meat should marinate for longer and even trees which grow slowly at the start become stronger at the core.

So yes, I want to be successful; but not at the speed of light.

Yes, I want to step out of my comfort zone; but not to the extent of being in perpetual discomfort.

I would love for my light to shine but not burn out.

Yes, I’d love to impact this world; but not at the risk of a head-on collision.

In everything there is a need for balance.

There is a need for the slow process of root penetration.

The attainment of depth, even though imperceptible; that, too, is growth.

Indeed being unstoppable has nothing to do with speed and for our cups to run over, it must first be filled.

We need to learn to make haste slowly.

[Festina Lente] ought to be carved on columns. It ought to be written on
the archways of churches, and indeed in letters of gold. It ought to be
painted on the gates of great men’s palaces, engraved on the rings of
cardinals and primates, and chased on the scepters of kings. To go
further, it ought to be seen on all monuments everywhere, published
abroad and multiplied so that everyone will know it and it will be before
every mortal eye, and there will be no one who doesn’t hold it of greatest
use…

-Erasmus

*This piece was inspired by a blogpost I read three weeks ago.

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