Take More Time, Cover Less Ground

June 16, 2012

“Take more time, cover less ground.”
Thomas Merton

My life isn’t even that busy or compartmentalized, but I often feel rushed. I was at a conference last year and the speaker asked the audience: “How many of you feel like your life is out of control in terms of responsibilities and things you have to do?”. I think I was one of two or three people who didn’t raise their hand. So, why do we do this to ourselves? What is so important that we have to feel “out of control”?

What would happen to you, your day, your life, your job, your family if you took more time to do some things, but overall, covered less ground. Would everything fall apart? Would you fall apart? Would you fail at something? Do we have to get everything done all the time, every day?

For so many of us there is a pressure, an expectation to hurry, hurry, hurry. There always seems to be a list of things to get done…that never seems to get done. Something is always hanging over our head, on the back burner, nagging at us when we do try to relax…The list in our mind is always being modified, but never seems to go away.

One thing that seems to ensure our list is always long is that we find it difficult to say “no”. At some point we each have to understand we just cannot say “yes” to everything.

I love my computer and the internet. It keeps me connected and informed. It provides information and entertainment. But it amps me up.  And I also “loose” time, sometimes hours, by just “tootling around” for no reason or purpose.  I have a personal agreement to turn my computer off by 8 pm in order to focus on winding down.

I am lucky to work at a place with a wonderful circle of maple trees in the yard. When weather permits, I grab a blanket from my car and spread it out under the trees and sit or lay down and do nothing. I stop. No errands. No phone or laptop. No “catching” up or getting one more thing done. I just stop. And when I get up after a little bit, I am a better person all around. Take a break….a real break. With nothing to do.

If trying to slow down is something important to you….you have to change the way you think. Often I hear friends say: “Oh, I can’t sit down, that just wastes time and I have so much to do”. Taking time is not wasting time. Unscheduled time, quiet time opens doors both to yourself and life.

By making  conscious choices you provide the potential for rich and meaningful things to happen in your life. When life becomes more dictated by lists and the chaos of frenetic energy and activity we don’t even have the time to see the potential as we zip right on past it.

Take more time. Cover less ground.

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