Challenge: To Slow Down
Supporting Naomi’s DTS this month.
Thoughts: We so often miss the little things that pass us by.
The Ninth Challenge: To Slow Down
Everything is fast paced in this world, like we are all in a race. To grow up, to become successful, to find a partner, to have children. We set goals, we say “by this time I want to have achieved XYZ” and then we put our blinders on and we run.
Over time, we have invented shortcuts to get us there quicker. But instead of giving us more time, we have just given ourselves more; packing every spare moment with activities and things to achieve.
It seems that all of us have become so used to this pace of life that if we happen, by chance, to find ourselves with space to breathe, we feel awkward. Fidgety. Bored, even.
When did we get so busy that we lost sight of what really matters?
Some of my best and most rewarding moments have been when I’ve taken time to stop amidst the business and chaos of life.
The Woman by the Road
One moment I will never forget was in Sapa, Vietnam. I was riding through the mountains on the back of a motorbike by the cliff edge on my way to catch a bus to Laos and the driver and I noticed a small crowd of people around a woman sitting on the road. Without hesitation my driver stopped the bike to see what was happening and (I presume) ask how he could help. It turned out that the woman had just given birth on the roadside but she and the baby were doing well and did not need any additional help. It was the most beautiful moment for me, knowing that this woman had brought a life into this world in the middle of the mountains by the cliff side overlooking the incredibly beautiful valleys of Sapa. I shed a small tear.
But I couldn’t help wondering, if this had been me in a taxi back home in England on the way to catch a train, would we have stopped to help?
What about if I had been rushing to work, running late, would I have taken the time to slow down and stop? Or would I assume the people around her had it in hand? Would I have missed out on this beautiful moment and opportunity to be part of something so wonderful?
I think for most of us, there have been times like that – not as dramatic and wonderful, but smaller and more discreet moments that we have brushed off with a slight guilty pang thinking “somebody else will”. And maybe they will, but maybe taking the time to slow down could mean you are part of something beautiful.
But this isn’t just about stopping to help people, this is also not being so busy and in such a rush that you miss the beauty in small rare moments.
Another special moment for me in Sapa, was seeing a butterfly on my path that looked pretty beaten down. At first I thought it was dead, but I saw that its wings had been wet from the rain and so it was stuck on the wet path and likely to be crushed by other hikers or eaten by a predator. So I found a twig and let this beautiful creature hop on before placing it in a safer and drier location.
Later mother nature rewarded me by sending this beauty to hitch a lift on our umbrella!
Weeks later, now on the east coast of the USA, I was driving on my way to Daytona beach when I saw this little guy crossing the road. I slammed my breaks (safely) when I saw the other side of the road did not seem to be slowing down, jumped out of the car and grabbed him! He had nearly been crushed by a big scary car. I returned him to his home in the sand dunes and warned him not to cross the road again.
The challenge this month will be to not be so busy that I miss the little things, those special moments. To make time for myself to breathe and enjoy a slower pace of life, rather than being in a hurry to get where I’m going. It seems fitting that I write this as I am on a 9 hour bus journey to Glasgow which I chose in favour of the more convenient, faster methods of transportation in order to save a fair bit of money. Because, actually, time is not money.
Because this challenge is going to be too difficult to measure, I’m not going to set any targets or give money to charity based on my success (or lack of). Instead, I’m going to be supporting my friend, Naomi, as she starts an amazing journey of her own exploring her faith and growing both spiritually and within herself.
I would encourage you to read her story and consider supporting her here.