The hurrider I go, the behinder I get

Folk Saying


Hurry and Human Rhythms

Hurrying is pressing or rushing onward in disharmony with natural or human rhythms. The will is driving a person to proceed in the absence of a feeling of readiness or real interest in what is being done. Hurry always results in awkwardness and lack of ease. Many mistakes are usually made, partly because of an absolute shortage of time, but mainly because of the physical and mental state that hurry brings on. Their is no satisfaction in the process itself. All looked for gain is expected in the end, in the state of 'having done something.'

Fear and danger has always been a cause for hurry. But these hopefully have always been infrequent emergency situations. Increasingly, hurry comes from an attitude of attainment. Increasingly, we live in a social milieu of hurry, based on the industrial idea of efficiency and greater production. The 24/7 activity cycle is a strong evidence of the cultural speedup. Forty years ago, most stores closed in the early evening and were entirely closed on Sunday. Television was not available overnight.

Power is also a motivation for hurry. If one gets ahead of one's fellow humans, more power and money is available. It is hoped that if no satisfaction came in the hurried getting of a social or professional goal, then satisfaction will come from the 'having' of the position. Of course it never works out that way.

Meeting up with natural rhythms does not always mean slowing a lot. Real speed is the illusion provided by mastery. Mastery comes from harmony of body, heart and mind. Slowing down is a useful idea for change however. This is because expectations for accomplishment tend to go at the speed of thought, which is almost instant, while creativity flows at the speed of the body. To slow down (from a frantic pace) is not the same as to lose out on satisfaction.

However, slowing down is different from just prolonging the duration of something by inserting stops and pauses. The point of slowing down is not to reach some arbitrary pace but to reconnect with a natural flow. A very basic rhythm is the duration of a breath. The pace of breathing has sped up. Modern 'healthy' people breathe 14-18 times a minute. Six breaths per minute is the optimal rate for nervous system balance. There is a folk saying "just stop and take a deep breath." which seems to suggest that reconnecting with breathing brings back a healthy pacing. There is also a saying "stop and smell the roses." Airflow through the nose helps restore autonomic balance.

Indigenous cultures are sometimes judged harshly for not 'being on time' and being lazy. But that is because indigenous people are inclined to act upon a feeling of readiness more than upon an arbitrary time. It is obvious that this is less efficient, but if the goal is a community or satisfying experience, then it is more effective.

In our culture, rigid starting times and expectations of production dominate work norms. If a worker is allowed to organize his or her own workday, then some adaptation to natural rhythms is possible. The 'assembly line' is a notoriously dehumanizing way to organize work. A very apparent rhythm is the day night cycle. Increasingly our work culture runs things 24 hours a day. The sabbath, apart from any religious connotations, was one day of rest a week in which nothing was done. This is part of the weekly cycle that ensured the body could both rest and reset its rhythms.