Omkari Williams

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Letting Go of "Fast"

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Growing up in Manhattan I am very well acquainted with the idea of doing things fast. From the pace at which we native New Yorkers walk down the street, eat our meals, and generally move through life, we have fast down. From time to time friends would come visit from out of town and they would comment on the pace of New York City. I would even notice it myself, but in the, “Wow, they are such slow walkers.” kind of way.

It wasn’t till I was in my early 20’s and went for an extended stay in Europe that I really connected to what “fast” looked like from the outside and felt like from the inside. Once I’d slowed down enough to notice that is. What I hadn't noticed, so accustomed was I to the pace, was that the energy it took to maintain that pace came from things that mattered to me.

My creativity, my sense of peace, and my ability to hear myself think all paid the price. It took stepping away, going to places where the pace was much slower and noticing how much easier and less stressful it felt to be in those places. I also finally noticed that my rather arrogant assumption that the way things were done in NYC was the way to do them was deeply misguided. Yes, NYC is the hub of the world in many ways but there is a price to be paid for moving at a pace that is so demanding.

The things that matter most to us are usually not things that can be rushed. Our significant relationships, our creativity, our important work, all these things require time to come to their fullest expression. New friends, fast friends, can be wonderful. But the friends who have been there for a long time hold a place in our lives that new friends don’t. The new friends may become old friends but there is a difference in a relationship that has built slowly, over time, and one that has a year behind it.

In our creative work there is often a point when we have to walk away to let what we are creating simmer. We need to take our intense focus off of the project so that our unconscious has the freedom to make connections that we can’t get to through an effort of will, that we can’t access fast.

In our daily life there is a need for the spaciousness we find when we have time that isn’t strictly controlled. Time to wander mentally, physically, or both, through a day with no destination in sight, just a desire to be present, to take delight in the day at hand.

And there you have the crux of the matter. “Fast” and “present” are often mutually exclusive. When we are in “fast” mode we are almost always on a mission, going somewhere, we are wanting to do, or get, something. We are focused on the product rather than the process. Process doesn’t have a speed associated with it. Process takes the time that it takes. Process allows us to enjoy the unexpected detours and not see them as an obstacle to our intended goal. Process puts us squarely in the camp of our own creativity, be that a slow cooked meal or a slowly written book. Letting go of “fast” frees us to listen to the inner rhythm and find our own beat inside the pace of the world around us.

If you find yourself feeling pushed by the pace of life try taking a little break, even if just for a few minutes, slow down and breathe.Take the time to find your internal pace and enjoy that and, just for a little while, let go of “fast.” You can always pick it up again.

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