Today, while Paul and I walked a quiet, country road, our faces absorbing the pale winter sunlight and our eyes feasting on sunlit mountains, a truck roared by going well over 60. Rocks sprayed. The disrespect clouded up and dissipated like dust settling.
We walked in silence for a moment. I said,
People in a hurry suck.
Silently, I added, and I am a chief of sinners. I admit to being a hurry-er. I could blame it on my personality, which always scores extremely high in the pointed, clipped, choleric, shaker-and-mover category. I am what is popularly termed, “task-oriented.” My children accuse me of “not being there.” By husband calls me a machine. You know how Jason Bourne is always checking his watch and moving in a brisk, efficient speed, his mind racing as he calculates the exits, estimates the weapons available, and recognizes potentially dangerous people?
I’m sort of a homeschool mom, educator, wannabe-writer version of that. I could blame it on my mother who was always in a hurry. I could blame it on my circumstances — four busy daughters in activities, homeschool teacher, writer, tutor, teacher.
But I’m not blaming this year. So, I guess that leaves me with me.
So I asked myself, “Why am I in a hurry? Why do I hurry? What is the very source of my need to hurry?” My quiet walk rudely interrupted by someone unwilling to slow down — in fact he sped up — made me wonder.
The answer shocked me. If a rock sprayed by the careening truck had bounced and hit me, I would not have been more surprised. My iron-clad, pretty-damn-near holy, “I listen to natural law” self had just been punctuated by a Flannery O’Connor ending. I’d been slapped with my image, horrified by the reality.
Being in a hurry tells those around me, My agenda is important. I have things to do. I am relevant. Sometimes, I must admit, it goes further. It says, My agenda trumps yours. My agenda is more important than yours. Your needs or wants don’t make the cut. Most importantly, the constant checking of the phone, the quick glances to the calendar, the mental check lists ticking in my head protests loudly to me, YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOU HAVE THINGS TO DO.
My hurry springs from the same sense of worthlessness as my lateness. Every time I am late, I am saying, My agenda is more important than yours. Even that “breathless five minutes late” look I’ve mastered so well which makes me feel so superior to my sister’s and mother’s more blatant 20 minute lateness — that too, for me, is a little trick of the trade in feeling important. Tweaking these control buttons and arriving when I feel like it is a way to project a more significant image of myself than is really true. It is a bloated hologram, a puffing up, a filler for empty places in my life.
For a moment, I doubted it. Worthless? Irrelevant? Insignificant? Really? Do those feelings really lurk somewhere underneath this confident, independent exterior?
The word insignificant really smarted. While digging around in the dark, I found some long suppressed or forgotten fears that what I do won’t matter. With a new decade looming and the list of all I want to do backing up, I’m running around looking tired and worn out, out of breath, convincing outsiders so I can convince myself that I’m important. I’m doing important things.
I haven’t accomplished my dreams for good reason! I’m swamped. I’m busy. Look at all I’m doing! Look at the juggling act! See how I keep all the schedules and dinners and tasks and roles afloat. Notice my exhaustion and marvel at “how she does it!” What sacrifices she makes. (Here I straighten my martyr hat– drawing attention to it).
I confessed all this to Paul in a more general, the-problem-is-out-there-and-not-with-me, kind of way. And walked. And walked. And thought. And thought.
(Now, here is where I delve into spiritual matters, completely ignoring all psychological answers. If this makes you scoff, have your laugh and move on).
My thirties have been one long dark night of the soul. I’ve doubted God’s existence, doubted his interest in me, doubted his love for me, doubted my abilities to hear his voice, wondered if he speaks and especially if he speaks to me, questioned why he’d want to speak to me, performed spiritual contortions to fit my circumstances into what I’ve been taught, failed miserably, wondered if there’s something wrong with my ears, scoffed at the glib answers rolling off people’s tongues, cursed the placid clichés, rolled my eyes at the shallow commentary, and arrived at 39 exhausted, disillusioned, and disgusted…
and, still, I believed in God. Moreover, I’ve crossed a spiritual desert and I’ve just finally staggered to the water fountain. Don’t conjure up romantic Alchemist images of the desert. Let me help you. I’m talking about plain ol’ ugly desert. (Paul would argue with me here — he loves coyote range)
The sparse desert has only clarified my resolve. No, “resolve” implies choice and I can’t take any credit. Let me rephrase. The sparse desert has only exhausted me to quicken my resignation: for me, there is no shaking the hound of heaven. I. Give. Up.
With this resignation comes a -ish peace. Not the drug-induced-just-relax sort of peace. Not the Thomas Kincaid serene scene sort of peace.
More like a surfing accident. Submerged under a big wave, I swim with all my strength until I realize I might swim the wrong way. If I just wait and I’ll float to the top…
or I won’t…
sort of peace is what I’m talking about. This feeling — I’m-afraid-I-might-die-but-I-have-no-control-so-why-fight? — is freeing. In fact, I feel amazingly alive.
I felt that today while on my walk, using the pissed-off feelings toward the driver of the hick truck to discover my own feelings of worthlessness. Recognizing I am submerged under a monster cultural wave of worthlessness, where everyone is clamoring for a lifesaver of self-importance, I’m going to stop kicking and wait to float to the surface.
I feel so alive today. I’m thankful I’m me… hurried, harried, infested with dream-blight, broke, and deeply alive me. I am me…worthless, insignificant, small, unimportant, and found. Someone has been searching for me for a long, long time.
- Another’s Brass (oregonpilgrim.com)
- Grow by Cooperating with God (kingteamdad.wordpress.com)
- The Hurry Cane™: Walking Good for Heart Health (sacbee.com)
- How many other things do we miss? (jojobayvel.com)
- Young Man’s Guide to Talking With Elders (scoutingrediscovered.com)
- Beauty in the everyday – what are we missing? (1000diamonds.wordpress.com)