A family went to its favorite park for a Saturday picnic lunch. While the three boys, William, Paul, and Michael, played together, running up and down the green rolling hills as fast as they could, Dad put the finishing touches on the meal while Mom put out the paper plates on a checkered picnic tablecloth.
Suddenly, they heard the youngest child, William, cry out, as if in pain. A second later, they were dashing in the direction of the distant sound, unable to see any of the boys because the hills obscured any direct line of sight. When they arrived, they found Michael, the eldest, standing over William, who was lying on the ground whimpering.
“What on earth have you done to your brother?” the mother demanded of Michael. “I’ve told you time and time again not to pick on him!”
“But, I didn’t,” Michael protested. “That’s not what happened!”
“Well, then,” asked the father, “Why is he lying here crying like this if you didn’t hurt him?”
Michael paused and looked over at his middle brother, Paul, hoping to find some kind of support. Finding none, he gathered himself and answered:
“We were all running up and down the hill, and while William was walking up, I was running down.” Michael looked over once more to Paul, but he could see Paul was actually enjoying the moment.
“And . . . ?” Mom and Dad asked at almost the same time, seeing that Michael was stalling for time.
“Well, I guess on the way down I ran over William . . . and that’s why he’s crying . . . but I didn’t mean to . . . honest!” said Michael.
“Then why did you trample over him?” asked the father in a tone that told Michael he wanted to hear the truth and nothing but the truth.
Michael paused to think over how to explain the incident and then, suddenly realizing exactly what had happened, spoke these words:
“I was just going too fast to stop,” he said, “and . . . well, William just got in the way. I’m sorry Dad. . . Mom . . . really, I am!”
We’ve all probably “run over” someone emotionally or hurt a friend, a loved one, or even a complete stranger while racing to get somewhere or do something “important.” And, like Michael, we regret it—most likely too late to do any good.
There may be no greater self-deception than the false notion that rushing through anything actually helps us in any way whatsoever. After all, if anxious thoughts and feelings had any power to deliver us to a place or time where peace awaits, don’t you think we’d have gotten there by now? Let there be no mistake here:
When it comes to being in a hurry, what difference does it make how fast you can get somewhere when all you find there is the next thing for you to rush through?
The following nine lessons contain special insights into the invisible pressure-filled states that cause human beings to run themselves ragged. The more clearly we can see that it’s impossible to reach a place of rest by rushing to get there, the sooner we’ll arrive at the true solutions that allow us to relax, slow down, and realize the relaxed pace of an inwardly liberated life. Study each of these lessons separately, but see them as telling one story whose happy ending goes something like this: You not only find the courage you need to step out of the rush, but you also awaken to a whole new order of yourself that gets everything done without you doing yourself in!
1. Anyone who rushes through life always finishes last! This is a truth unseen by the masses, but evident to those weary of going nowhere fast. You race as you do to escape the unhappiness you feel being where we are, running towards what you imagine will free you from that dissatisfaction. But such races are always lost before they begin because you can’t outrun yourself!
2. All forms of momentum are mindless, but never more so than when a mind—blinded by desire—runs after what it wants without any awareness of its action.
3. Patience is a great virtue whose cost is paid by becoming painfully conscious of what our impatience does to others.
4. The rush to judgment is a race that nobody wins!
5. Allowing the rushed state of another person to push you into an anxious state of mind is like letting the horse you’re about to ride convince you to wear the saddle!
6. You are well on our way to reclaiming your original fearless Self when you find your source of peace and contentment in just being alive.
7. Rushing through life lends the one who habitually hurries the feeling of being “important,” but loans such as these come at the high cost of always having to justify one’s unkindness—like when we have to convince ourselves that our impatience with others is a necessary evil along the way to that “greater good” towards which we think we run.
8. The main reason it’s wise to listen to one’s own heart—whenever we can step out of the rush and remember to do so—is because there’s much more to be learned from the parts of us that don’t “speak” in words . . .than those that do.
9. The most important thing to remember whenever you find yourself in a mad rush is that what you are really trying to get to is a quiet mind . . . a peaceable state of self reached only by realizing there is no place more empowering for you to be than in the present moment.
(Excerpted from The Courage to Be Free, Weiser Books, 2010)
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Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 38 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. For more information visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up to receive a free helpful newsletter emailed to your desktop once each week.
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