The Time Things Take
I was raised by someone who walks really fast. Fast was good, fast was smart, fast was better. If you were asked for something — clean the kitchen, get me some water, bring the groceries from the car — fast was the only acceptable mode. Slow, on the other hand, was dumb, was lazy, was less than.
Hermione is first, after all, to have her hand up. And I was raised to be Hermione in all things.
So for me, and perhaps for you, that fast thing is deeply ingrained. That equation of fast with good still colors my decisions and actions.
It helps that we’ve been steeped in the glorification of fast, something which has begun to crack. Think slow food, slow fashion, even slow flowers.
But still, something in me still wants everything to be fast, and it takes a supreme effort to WAIT, to be PATIENT, to let things take the time they take.
In gardening, I have learned this. There is no way to rush a seed. Germination, while you can assist by ensuring moisture, light, heat, takes the time it takes. Harvest takes the 65 days from planting, more or less, depending on the plant itself and other conditions. There is no human rush-rush that can accelerate that. So there I’ve learned to wait my patience.
But in work? Slow? Patience? Hah.
Part of this is long years of training. Long years of speed and over-work compensating for a (trained) lack of confidence, a (trained) deference to authority, a (trained) lack of trust in my own judgment. Turn the assignment in early. Get your homework done on Friday. Do all the extra credit. Know the material inside and out. Repeat back what you’ve been taught. Ace the test. Get the A.
Gardening was where I unlearned all of this. Where I learned to STOP asking for permission, for validation, where I tried and failed and succeeded year over year, building a bank of confidence, a bank of trust. Trust that things would work, trust that i was capable. Trust that I was more than capable.
This business that I started in 2014 has been a similar and steady un-learning, a stilling, a trusting. Which is still evidently unfolding.
Yes, still unfolding. Recently I was so frustrated that it was taking me so long to build an on-line course. I felt like I’d been working on it for months, and just not progressing. I was also pissed that I couldn’t just enjoy my growing already-successful little business, that I was ending every day, even though I was doing great work, helping people, feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. A situation, I realized, of my own making, the product of spending money on a course about building courses (which billed them as the panacea, the thing you need to diversify your income stream, serve more, make more, which I don’t doubt can be true) and of always wanting to be done fast, in this case to realize that “investment.” I hit a wall a few weeks ago and realized that I honestly didn’t want to feel bad all the time about what I wasn’t doing, i.e., not doing the extra credit, not acing the test, not getting the A. So I stopped. Stopped pushing. Stopped rushing. Stopped feeling bad.
And what happened because I was going slow, because I wasn’t pushing and was letting things take the time they take, waiting for that remarkable little seed to germinate? The actual real answer floated in. I’m not building that course anymore, I’m making something else, something I feel great about and which is happening so much more easily, so much more light-ly. Something that feels right.
When I’m moving fast, though, it’s easy for me to not hear that little voice that’s saying Excuse me, really?
It’s funny for me when my mother comes over, that she almost always will exclaim when looking at the garden I’ve had a hand in building, “But when did you learn this? How did you come to know these things?”
By slowing down. By letting things take the time they take.