Running is overrated.  Not just because I’m terrible at it, but because it’s just not that practical.  Sure, I can run to catch a bus if I need to, or I can sprint to hug a friend I haven’t seen for too long, or I can dash when the smoke detector goes while I’m baking.   On a daily basis though, I question the validity of sprinting through life.

How much more efficient or effective is my life going to be when I trip over the boots in the entry as I run to the car in the morning?  If I push the pedal down on the freeway, is it really getting me to work faster?  And is it a justifiable emergency to accelerate slightly to squeeze the gap between my vehicle and the next in front to thwart that villain car beside me who is desperately signaling to change lanes, and, horror of all horrors, to be one more car preventing me from my destination? When I dash through the malls and hurry my kids, are they really going to choose their pair of jeans faster?

How much time am I really buying for myself and what on earth would I do with that time anyway?  Sleep?  Oh yeah, baby, with a hot chocolate and a great book by my side!  For a parent in any stage of parenting to have a private moment in the bathroom devoid of questions or demands would be pretty much unheard of.  From what I hear, once they leave home, you have a clean house and all the time in the world to whine about why they won’t come home.   So, I guess I can live with answering why there is no food in the fridge while I abode on the commode. Or hearing how I’ve ruined lives merely because I danced for two seconds in a department store aisle to a simply irresistible tune.

Let’s split hares for a moment.  Or turtles.   Or a turtle and a hare?  You think that may sound hare-y?  I guarantee it.  I am married to slow and steady.  He is not. I push him to make a schedule and stick to it.  He pushes back to make sure I don’t create a mess and add unrealistic expectations.  At times, I think that he is bent on thwarting all of my plans, convinced that no plan is the best plan.  At times, he thinks that I will spin our family into oblivion with reckless abandon (but flair, always flair).  Because we both understand that we are both by nature somewhat impossible, we take a step back and breathe deeply once in a while before plunging into a needless debate.  I do my rabbit thing while he does his turtle thing.  He speeds up a bit and I slow down.  We walk through life together.  Am I a terrible rabbit because I don’t race past every other rabbit?  Is he a horrible turtle because he adds a couple of gears to his pace now and then?  Does it really matter?  The point is that we as a turtle/rabbit couple have decided to pace ourselves together.  That’s the finish and the punch line right there – to keep calm and walk on together.

My friend Jenni sprinted to join the slow food movement years back.  Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.  It’s based on principles of good, clean and fair.  She’s an amazing chef – I could give her a hand full of twigs and she’d whip up a phenomenal gourmet meal that would astound anyone.   I’m more of a “full fat or go home” home cook but I still agree with their basic vision of management.  Pacing our food creation and consumption with deep respect for consumer, producer, nature and culture.  Pretty lofty, but most ideals are.

If we set our pace according to relationship, not perceived reality or record making, achieving community becomes joyful reality.  Sure…stuff happens and stuff accumulates.  It’s just stuff.  What about the stuff we’re made of?

This past little while, my life slowed down due to a few unexpected glitches in the road.  I pretty much lost the entire pace of a month and my productivity hit a slippery slope and, according to my to do list, dropped off the cliff.  There wasn’t anything I could do except to deal with what was in front of me. I kept calm (mostly) and walked on.  I left false expectations behind wherever possible and dealt with each event the best that I could.  Every night I went to bed thankful to God and woke up the same.  Shed lots of tears, sweat a few bullets here and there (not just in my documents either), and said a few less than gentle comments as I processed life, repented of my inevitable weakness, and repeated the process until the events were completed. My turtle was right there beside me.  In the past few years, the more I slowed down, the more I noticed my turtle’s pace.  I’ve realized that he accomplishes more in a day than I do in two.  He’s just quieter about it.  I run in circles or ovals or zigzag patterns through life hoping desperately to be a good achiever.  He just walks on, works hard and keeps loving me.   Now that’s an achievement!

I’m learning, slowly and surely.  I still lose my temper when my kitchen is a nightmare. I can get a lot done in a day.  I’m just trying to do that in a more peaceful way.  My genetic and chosen dispositions are softening though.  At least I hope so.  Until I finish this blog entry and something else triggers the next hare-y response.  It’s a lot easier to be wise in a blog than it is to be wise in person.  I’m walking toward both.

Psalm 103:8 says The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.   Isn’t that the definition of keeping calm and walking on?  There is a time for everything.  Tortoise or hare, the pace is not the focus.  It’s about never losing sight of eternity and being eternally grateful.

Winners never quit and quitters never win.  It’s witty and true. It’s the determination of putting one foot in front of another, whilst holding on to a soft heart, strong mind and surrendered will. Yes, I said surrendered.  I can’t let my agenda to trump relationship.  Profits can’t be allowed to compromise quality for no one can ever profit from losing quality.  There are times and seasons of frenetic activity that I have to remain peaceful in.  There are intervals and stints of painfully sluggish paces in which I have to steel my resolve and make it through.  Foggy or clear, valley or mountain, desert or rainforest, it matters only that I remain peaceful and march on.

Pace out, people!

(c) Sandra Foster, Ranenpur, February 19, 2014

Would love to hear how hare-y your life is or how you put the torte in your tortoise life! Please do tell…