Friday, October 26, 2007

put the breaks on life

New to Somebody Heal Me? Subscribe to the Somebody Heal Me feed:
Subscribe in a reader or subscribe by e-mail. Follow me on Twitter @somebodyhealme.

When I was in Maui a year ago we were total sheep and spent a day traveling the scenic, twisty, turvy Hana Highway. While we were puttering along, taking in the scenery and navigating the curves, periodically a local would come up behind us and give a short honk. At first I was offended. We were simply trying to be careful and enjoy the ride. Then a light bulb went off: It wasn't that they were in a hurry; instead they were simply using the horn as a "heads up" that they'd like to pass us when the opportunity arose. I felt like such an intense dork.

Contrast this with the prevailing attitude on the mainland. On any given day you'll notice a number of people honking at the car in front of them if the driver doesn't immediately jump off the line when a light changes. Speed limits are most often treated as a minimum, rather than the intended maximum safe speed, and you'll usually have someone attached to your bumper if you dare obey the speed limit.

This "go go go" attitude is pervasive in our society. There is a laundry list of milestones by which we measure ourselves (college, grad or professional school, build a successful career, become financially stable, get married and take a world-class honeymoon, have kids), and it is all too tempting to feel like a failure if you don't hit them or don't reach them in the time you expected you would.

Slowing down would do us all a world of good. I used to buy into the hurried attitude hook, line and sinker. I pushed myself toward every common milestone and patted myself on the back each time I reached one. Then I became chronically ill. And I found it impossible to keep up. Divested of my career, which is how I most often defined myself and measured my worth, I was forced to re-examine my priorities and goals. It made me think about what really mattered to me and how I wanted to present myself to other people.

While I know I could have learned this important lesson in many other ways that would be preferable to my current situation, I find life much more enjoyable despite my health concerns now that I have stopped fighting against my limits and started working toward becoming the person my values would direct me to be. I still struggle to keep my values in mind when I'm tempted to berate or belittle myself. But overall I'm a much happier person.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Subscribe to the Somebody Heal Me feed: Subscribe in a reader or subscribe by e-mail.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Content by Diana E. Lee.