The world is speeding up.
With the Internet Age and all its latest innovations, we’ve kissed good-bye the dallying days of dial-up (thank god), snail mail (mostly), and life before Amazon. Life before YouTube where 100 hours of video are uploaded each minute and Facebook where more than 1 billion of us edit and update every life event large or small each day—and apparently, some of you play games. I love you, but NO, I DO NOT WANT TO PLAY CANDY CRUSH WITH YOU. Please stop inviting me. I’ll eat candy with almost anyone; I’ll play Candy Crush with no one.
If you want to read a book, you can download it. Want to find a mate for life, sign up for Match. Want to find a mate for right now, start swiping on Tinder. Need to know the answer to just about anything? Google to the rescue. We log on, connect, communicate, reply, reserve, RSVP, download, digest, and dissect information at a rate never before seen in history. You have 140 characters to hold my attention. You have 5-minutes to give your pitch to investors. You have 30 seconds before I close this browser, delete this email, change this channel (scratch that, 4 seconds).
This weekend, while surfing not the web, as in actual surfing in the ocean, I blessedly did the opposite of all of the above. I slowed down. I signed off. Two hours into my time on the water, I realized I had not thought about anything else. Funny thing about doing something new or daring or both. You have to pay attention fully. It was my second time trying the sport but technically my first time in a proper wet suit, not convulsing with cold or terror, and able to stand up on a wave—five of them in the end! A breakthrough learning moment occurred when our instructor from Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Shop explained the following:
I know it feels like everything is happening really fast, but you don’t have to go faster. You can take your time.
Guys… did you hear that? I think a gong just rang in a Buddhist monastery somewhere. What wisdom! And even better? It worked. I stood up on the next wave because when I felt the lurch beneath my board and thought for a moment that I’d missed my chance: I paused, steadied myself, and stood.
There’s a reason more people than ever before are seeking yoga, meditation, and other mindfulness practices. As the world speeds up, we intuitively know the value and joy of slowing down. It’s not only essential to our health and happiness. It might also make us better at whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish: riding a wave, listening to friends or colleagues, parenting a child, creating a piece of art or a meaningful slice of life.
Take your time. Or, as a yogi I follow on Twitter once said: trust the timing of your life. (Dang Twitter, you got me). This world, our world, is moving faster, but you don’t have to—not all the time. If you don’t slow yourself down, you may not get a chance to take pause any other way. Then, think of all the non-gigabytes of life non-data you’d miss. Which would be a real shame, dude, because surfing not the web is awesome, and the best things in life are analog.