“Be quick but don’t hurry.” -John Wooden
It was my first year after college, and I was taking a walk with my grandpa, as I had done at least sixty times before. When I strutted past the fourth tree after the stop sign, I realized I could get more job applications done if I didn’t go on walks with my grandpa. My future was really important and I shouldn’t stop for anyone.
I continued on with my grandpa, because it would be rude to stop in the middle of a walk. I reflected on my other days leading up to this — networking, going to interviews, studying up on Six Sigma, and chatting with friends to try to get insight into how I can get even more competitive as a candidate. I was becoming a stronger applicant by the day, and my development-minded habits contributed to that strength.
I also thought about the other things that happened during my day — messaging people on Facebook, responding to e-mails, texting, and making phone calls. I didn’t push out more than three applications a day. When applications were hard, social media was easy. Walks with my grandpa didn’t have satisfying red notifications. And how exactly was I supposed to remember his birthday without birthday events on my Facebook calendar?
When I reflected about these very disposable accounts of my time (especially with responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, and texts), I realized that I had no reason to stop hanging out with my grandpa. I realistically wouldn’t submit more applications just by stopping a morning walk. Besides, it kept me waking up before 10 AM, and often not past 8:30, which felt great.
Beyond being a tiny time commitment, walks with my grandpa were eye opening. He would move his feet and walker to the grass when I told him someone was coming. He played along with my “Picture of the Day”, which we framed using a professional thumbs-and-index-finger approach, to capture the beauty of the outdoors. He said hi to every single person, or at least met eyes and nodded at them. For me, he was always well-prepared for walks through his dress, hygiene, and food consumption, as long as you give him a heads up.
Our time was simple, but I learned a couple lessons about the relationship between time and people.
•People must always be treated as more than time commitments.
When I share a human moment with someone, I do my best to give them undivided attention and care. When my grandpa moves himself off to the side of the sidewalk, he recognizes that many of the people walking would have done the same for him, and he appreciates that. Whenever I saw the faces on those people, they were always surprised and gracious, seeing that he was so willing to honor their presence, if only for eight seconds.
•Try not to be afraid of spending time with others.
I don’t think my grandpa remembers explicitly teaching me this, because it was highly implicit. Since that day I considered not walking with my grandpa, I have found that looking forward to spending time with or for others has felt better than pretending to be a productive adult. I have volunteered at the Kentucky Special Olympics, walked with friends to a lecture rather than riding in a car, and used my 4th of July to play patriotic songs for old folks, rather than spending a quiet night at home recovering. There are lots of exceptions to this rule, but if I ever think of saving my time, and keeping it all to myself, I end up losing it or bingeing it anyway.
I will never forget all of the time I wanted to take away from myself and my grandpa. I look back on it as one of my most selfish thoughts ever, and I feel ashamed to admit that my synapses allowed the diffusion of a neurotransmitter bearing that idea.
Doubling back, I realize that my selfish thought gave me more love for my grandpa that I had prior to that sixtieth walk. My walks were no longer snapping fake pictures and practicing my backwards walk. My walks became vivid memories, where I could take pictures without having to sort them later, talk to a loved one, and take in some sun.
I didn’t think of it on the tenth walk, but taking walks with my grandpa may have been his own development-minded habit for me to draw from, without even realizing it.
Sun hot, check for bugs,
Winter cold, snowfall hugs,
Fall weather, sweater weave,
Spring arrives, I leave.
I am certain there are other rules for time and people, but isn’t that for you to tell me in the comments?