Yesterday, I got stopped for speeding. Yes, unfortunately it’s true. I, a devoted yogi and self-proclaimed “go-with-the-flow-er” drive fast. Really fast. And it’s not because I have the need for speed. On the contrary, it has to do with my need to be efficient. You see, slowness is not efficient. You can’t get much done if you’re slow, can you? So why not turn a 3-hour drive from Vermont to Connecticut into a 2.5-hour drive? Well, because that’s how you get stopped for speeding, that’s why.
I should preface this by saying that I’ve been stopped many times before but have only ever received “warnings.” No, not because I blink cutely at the cops. I guess I’ve just been lucky. Until now. My most memorable traffic cop encounter was when I was driving back from my graduate school graduation in 2003. My family was following me in their car and I was driving my own back to their house. I remember my father telling me: “No turtle driving!” (translation: “Just get there. Even if you have to speed.”) He was anxious to get home, as we all were, because we were planning on leaving for vacation the next day and we all needed to pack.
Every time I drive, I think of those words: “Just get there.” So you can get more done! Needless to say, my speeding ticket yesterday was a wake-up call of sorts. It called attention to the fact that I simply rush too much. And why? What would I have gotten done in those 30 minutes I thought I was saving myself by speeding? Probably nothing.
In yoga, beginner students tend to rush to master a pose. And once they do master it, they do it over and over again. I think of myself and how I can now successfully do crow pose (and side crow) without falling on my head. Every time I do it, I feel stronger. Is it the same with driving? Could it be that since I’ve successfully managed to drive 80mph for so many years (without managing to get a ticket) now I don’t know how to stop? Or could it be that I am one of those people who Christina Feldman calls “intensity addicts“?
“While you may not wear souvenirs of pain right on your face for all to see, chances are good that you, too, are an intensity addict, focusing much of your attention on life’s pains and pleasures. A roller coaster ride, an exhilarating meditation, the excitement of a new love, or an exotic vacation offer a longed-for wakefulness and a sense of being fully alive. A broken heart, an illness, a lost opportunity, or a nasty argument can bring pain but can also capture and enliven your attention. Even routine busyness, which can be exhausting, offers apparent meaning, direction, and identity.”
In a weird way, getting stopped for speeding strangely fed my ego. It made me realize that, at some point, someone (even if his name is Major Roj) will notice how fast you are driving/working/moving (fill-in-the blank with your own word). While it’s much easier said than done, I know that I am definitely someone who is going to make a conscious effort to slow down this season. Because you never know if by rushing past things, you miss the most important stuff in life.
(Side note: while reading the Yoga Journal article “Don’t Hurry, Be Happy” for this blog post, I had to stop and begin again as soon I realized that I was speed-reading it.)