Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Wisdom & Joy of Making Haste Slowly

by Philip Humbert

Remember the saying, "haste makes waste?" We live with constant change and tremendous impatience. We want solutions and we want them "NOW!" We want relief, we want success, we want the future to arrive easily, cheaply and soon!

And, at the same time, we want peace of mind, simplicity, and release from the stress of moderne life. My friend, George Dubie, says, "hurry is the devil" and he's right. I love the quote from Gandhi that "there is more to life than increasing its speed."

This week, I watched Steve Jobs offer a free case to "fix" the new iPhone's antenna problems. In their rush to market, apparently they over-looked something and now they've got egg on their face. How sad!

I think nature is constantly trying to tell us this. Recently, I saw a National Geographic on how change takes place in nature and while this was not their major lesson, here's what I got:

1. Rapid change is often marked by chaos, confusion, pain, suffering and sometimes disaster.

2. Slow change is marked by growth, beauty, evolution and astonishing complexity.

Now, obviously those rules don't always apply, but here are my thoughts. Rapid change comes from things like volcanoes and earthquakes and hurricanes and floods. Yes, change is quick and powerful and awesome. And, yes, there is beauty in Mother Nature's power, but the results are unpredictable and filled with unintended consequences.

On the other hand, slow change created the Grand Canyon, Giant Redwoods, and the rich soil of the Great Plains. Slow, methodical human labor created the great pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and the Taj Mahal. In his biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright, Fred Howard makes the point that they were successful precisely because of their methodical experiments, careful notes, exhaustive research and willingness to learn from others. They took their time and learned to fly!

We know that fad diets and rapid weight-loss often lead to gaining the weight back within a few months. A better way is to change lifestyle, burn more calories than you consume and slowly, methodically (and safely) achieve your desired outcome.

In the quest for "instant wealth," how many have fallen for "get rich quick schemes?" In our "need for speed," how many of us have run aground, taken the wrong turn or rushed impatiently down the wrong path?

There is wisdom in the story of the tortoise and the hare. Remember their race? The rabbit jumps off to a dramatic, frenzied start while the poor lumbering tortoise doesn't seem to have a chance, but I'm sure you remember how the story ends!

Sure, I want to reach my goals as quickly as possible. Sure, I like going fast! Of course I prefer my high speed internet connection! Who doesn't?

When it comes to reaching our most important goals—peace, prosperity, loving families, personal satisfaction and the joy of living well, Mother Nature seems to know something. She moves slowly and methodically. She does her work in small increments, day by day, always moving forward, taking her time and doing her work with exquisite beauty. We can learn from that.

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