Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rushing to...

...what?

I think about this often when I am on the road. Today, for example:

Leaving work is a process. Out of the library, across the street to the parking garage, up the elevator, walk to my car, out of the garage gates, through a couple traffic lights and stop signs. On to the interstate ramp and finally, after fifteen or twenty minutes, I'm out of the city and on the road to home. I know I'm lucky that it only takes that length of time from office to city limits and fairly open road. It's the worst part of my commute. Once I am out of town, the traffic thins and the scenery improves, getting better and better as I near home. I relax, leave work behind mentally as well as physically, and look forward to the evening and what I might do. Sometimes, like today, I think about what I will write on this blog.

As I was going through one light on my path out of the city a car zoomed up beside me. I thought she must be going to turn at the next intersection, and she did--then she turned left again and raced to the next stop sign so she could get in front of me. I had to laugh and just waved her through. It apparently was desperately important to her to be in front of me. And I remembered the couple of times I've done it myself. Why was it so important to get one car ahead in the after-work race? Why will we press the accelerator just a little harder if we think someone is going to get in front of us? Are we really in such a hurry? Where are we rushing to?

I can recall times in the grocery store when I have been in line behind someone who takes forever to check out. I'm on one foot and then the other, trying to figure out if I should stay in this line or try another one. I also know that sometimes I am the one holding up the line and enduring the impatient foot-tapping of the person behind me.

But what's the rush? One car length doesn't make a trip noticeably longer; a few more minutes in line at the store will not make that much difference to my evening. Why do we begrudge those moments?

I noticed the people on the elevator in the parking garage with me this evening too. No one was smiling; there was no conversation. Everyone looked worn out and worn down. They just wanted out--out of work, out of town, out of the space that caused them to look like they did. We read over and over that we should do the work we love; in the elevator today I don't think there was one person in love with their job.

As I move closer to my retirement date, I think about time even more than usual. My time will be mine to plan. Will I plan wisely, using my minutes and hours in ways that enrich my life and the lives of those around me? Will I learn to relax a little, ease up, maybe even meditate or just piddle around? Or will I keep trying to get one car length ahead and getting irritated with the lady at the grocery store who can't find her Kroger card? I want to believe I will do better, be a better person when the stress of 9-to-5 is gone. Knowing myself it's quite possible that what I will do is pile on more work of a different kind and continue the pressure of deadlines that are self-created rather than inflicted.

I don't have answers to any of these questions--yet. Perhaps simply asking them is enough to guide me to a calmer, more mindful state of being. To the lady in the white car, I hope you got where you needed to be this evening and at some point could let go of the pressures that pushed you so hurriedly down the road. You gave me a gift without knowing it tonight, a reminder to just slow down. And smile.

11 comments:

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Granny , I'll tell you this from experience.. You will wonder how you ever worked! Retirement is a busy busy time and there isn't enough time to finish it all.

Country Whispers said...

In today's world it is hard not to be rushed. It's just the way of life now a days it seems.
But by being rushed we all miss out on the important things in life. Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses.

You are so right about people being unhappy with jobs.
My son is already beginning to plan for his future schooling and I keep telling him that the #1 thing he needs to consider is whether or not the career choice he picks will make him happy each day.
Will he want to get out of bed each day to go to his job?
So many people are working jobs that may make the money that they wish for but are so unhappy with that job.
Is it really worth it?
We are here once, enjoy the life you live!

A Vintage Green said...

I've reached year 3 of retirement and I can't imagine how I had time to go to work as well as do everything I do now (and I was doing most of the same when I was working but the exhaustion was constant). I do enjoy making my own routines, my own tasks, my own speed. I do know that I work slower, and enjoy my quiet moments, a cup of tea or coffee and a read, time to blog (didn't take it up until I retired), more time working on my booth stock, working in my booths more frequently. I could go on.
- Joy

Granny Sue said...

I have heard from many people, gingerbread, that I'll be busier than ever. I don't mind that at all, so long as I am enjoying it!

Jessica, you are giving your son some good coaching there. I wanted to be a writer, but took the "safe" path and got a teaching degree. Which is funny because I was never really a teacher--I subbed and did some tutoring, then got a full-time job at the library and have been here ever since. What would have happened if I had pursued my real dream? Would I have been a journalist, an editor, or...? I will never know. I enjoyed library work until the last 3 years, but still looked for ways to write. So I told stories, started writing groups and book discussion groups, all the things around the thing I loved. Getting your son started in a career field he loves is great advice.

Granny Kate said...

You might be leaving a job, but you will never leave your work. You'll find one thing after another to do and be busier than ever because it all means so much -- much more than your 9-5 ever did.

Some days you'll accomplish so much, you'll wonder how you ever got it all done when you were punching a time clock. Other days, the fact that you can do ANYthing you want will keep you from doing anything at all.

It's a brand new adventure and all we're doing is guessing how it will be. But I know the Storyteller will bring us stories along the way! For that, we'll be grateful and mighty blessed.

warren said...

It seems like the closer you get to retirement, the more you smile! So exciting!

Tipper said...

I don't know the answers to the questions-but I know I'm a hurrier. I hurry though every thing-even when I don't have too. My husband says I have one speed-full throttle : ) I should so slow down and enjoy.

Mary said...

The best I have ever heard it said was that we can forget the "human doing" and adopt the "human being" mode.
Yes, I find meaningful things to do, but I also have time to enjoy the sunset, the woodchucks and other critters, and take better care of the vintage body in which I reside . . . and tell some stories.
May you be ever-so fulfilled in you next phase!
(and find the good parts in today's work as well).

Granny Sue said...

Vintage body! Mary, I love that! No wonder I like other vintage things :)

Kate, you speak true words. I remember how it was when I was a stay-home mom, about 25 years ago. I had a regular schedule--up at 6 to get the boys off to school and husband off to work, an hour for tea and reading, out to do chores by 8, housework or garden work til noon, lunch and reading til 1, dinner and cooking/baking the rest of the afternoon. Those were busy days, but with rest time built in, and the pace my own.

Granny Sue said...

I am smiling more, Warren, just thinking about it. I have one more performance review to do, one more monthly report to write...and the days keep counting down.

Tipper, full throttle isn't bad as long as you let the engine idle from time to time:) and I think you know how to do that. It comes through on your blog--in your attention to the world around you, to music and your family.

steeleweed said...

I retired at the end of 1998. It took me six months to slow down and I didn't accomplish anything. Then I got organized and did a lot, but without the pressure.
Back to work in 2000, recently changed to part-time pending retirement in June. There seems to be no way to get my head in the right place for that. It needs to be Work or Retire. Anything in between is just confusing.

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