What’s The Rush? (or the Simple Joy of Slowing Down)

Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash

During my recent visit with my stepmother down here in Florida, she mentioned that one thing that used to drive her crazy was how slow my dad would drive not just in Florida but everywhere. “Lots of times when we were driving,” she shared, “I’d have my foot on an imaginary gas pedal.” She went on to say that if we were in a 35 mph zone, he’d be going 25 or even less. Sometimes he’d even just pull to the side to let everyone pass because he didn’t want to feel rushed. I told her to join the club. My wife hates my driving as well (just in general, not because of my speed) It’s only when she’s been sleep deprived or our car’s Take A Break alert comes on that she’ll let me take the wheel.

Besides providing more material for Florida driving jokes, I was really surprised to learn this about my father. He had taught me to drive years ago. This was a torturous experience for the two of us that tested the boundaries of unconditional love. I have vivid memories (and an occasional nightmare) of him yelling “stop the car, stop the f — — k car” when it wasn’t clear to me that a left turn needs to be made with extreme caution. One thing I didn’t remember; however, was him being concerned about my speed or his when he drove. The slower driving must have started in his later years. I never noticed it as we typically met at a restaurant or the home he shared with my stepmom.

Photo by Bas Peperzak on Unsplash

What was even more interesting and surprising was that my stepmom went on to share that my father never ever wanted to be rushed. For anything — not just driving. I found this quality about my dad endearing and inspiring. In fact, during a Toastmasters meeting a day or so after our visit, I was asked to share the most inspirational person in life. I’m lucky to have so many choices so it was a pretty tough call. The competition included my wife, my daughter, the many amazing professionals I have the good fortune to work with and so many more. Yet, I found myself telling the story of my dad’s eagerness to Slow Down as something truly rare and inspiring. What’s The Rush? was apparently one of his favorite questions.

I realized why it hit me at this moment in my life. As I write this post, I’m grateful to be doing so many things that I love both professionally and personally. This year I started a full-time remote role helping The Clearity Foundation expand its fundraising. As I recently noted in another post, next week my new Leadership SuperPowers coaching program will kick off. I also do some writing for a coaching organization and volunteer projects for a few nonprofits. Beyond that, I’m continuing my marathon training and am committed to finally getting some new music out there on Spotify or Patreon.

I was happy to have said yes to this work and these activities. And I did say no to some other opportunities. Yet, there have been days when I wake up in the middle of the night — like last night — and realize I have overlaps or I’m simply overscheduled. There have been a few mornings when I look at a very full calendar and wonder how I’m going to contribute 100% and be fully present for every one of these commitments.

I share all of the above not to brag or elicit sympathy. Quite the opposite. It’s simply to remind myself, and perhaps you if you find parallels here, that we always have the ability to Slow Down. I know it’s been said far more eloquently than I might here but there are so many reasons for Slowing Down:

It’s far easier to get quiet with ourselves. We can be present with our thoughts and observations. Looking outward, we can actually appreciate the beauty in this world. We can connect with others. This is a lesson I experienced in the last marathon I ran where I truly enjoyed the scenery and company of other runners. This reminds me of the premium our society puts on being fast. Mid-to-back of the pack runners (myself included) will often be self-deprecating and say they’re just enjoying the scenery. I’d offer a reframe: We are incredibly lucky that we get to experience the vast potential of our body in motion while connecting with nature and humanity. Slow — yes plain old slow — has much to offer.

Much like the choice my dad made, we can make the choice to pull to the side of the road, take our time out and observe, reassess and choose when we’re ready to re-start. Doing this doesn’t mean we’re not successful or incapable. Rather, it’s respecting our own inner wisdom.

After all, What’s The Rush?

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Robert Grabel

Robert Grabel

Robert Grabel is committed to serving and does so through his practice Nonprofit Now! Learn about him at www.yournonprofitnow.com.