Do you see people continuosly rushing around like their life is at stake? Do you wonder why is everybody is in so much hurry? Are you yourself very busy? Is being rushed natural state of humans or nurtured state of human consciousness? I think we are conditioned to hurry through life. Why? I don’t know, there may have been some evolutionary reason but important question is: Is it still relevant? There is a better way of being in this world, we all have experienced it when we were children. Why not look back and find out why do we hurry through life. What have we gained and what have we lost?
Do you remember the time when the time didn’t exist?
I remember being a young child, may be about three years or younger, kids of that age have no concept of time.
I remember being fascinated by simple things like a bubble, sound of water, or ray of light. Such phenomena could hold my attention for long stretches of time until some adult would rush me to do something else. A simple bubble with all it’s delicate spherical structure, it’s movement in the air, the colors of the rainbow it captures, it is just gorgeous experience. Such experience is beautiful beyond words, it is precious, it is sacred.
Just like any young child, I didn’t keep time and used to be fully immersed in the experience of the moment. Time didn’t exist, experiences did. There wasn’t much past in my memory and there wasn’t enough information in my mind to imagine the future, so as I child, I dwelled in present, almost continuously. May be chasing a butterfly or trying to hold a ray of sun or listening to the sound of raindrops. Experiencing through still and fully present awareness the world was always magical and fresh.
Introduction to hurry
I remember my first encounters with state of hurry. When I was little, around three years old, I was living in Mumbai, the very capital of hurried life.
I remember, I had these beautiful red colored slippers, they were very delicate and cute. Walking in them was a challenge for me as my toes needed to hold them in place while walking and I hadn’t mastered that level of motor skills then. So I used to walk rather slowly when I put them on. Once, I wore them to go out somewhere with my mother. We walked slowly to the bus stop. While standing at the bus stop, I watched adults around me anxiously looking towards left. “Thats where the bus will be coming from”, my mom told me. I watched all adults, anxiously looking at that directions until the bus arrived. Then everyone started running towards the bus, my mother told me to hurry. In that hurry I lost one of my red slippers on the road. There was no time to go back and get it so we just left without it! Once inside the bus, the adults still looked just as anxious as they were on the bus stop. I wondered what is all the hurry, we are on the bus now. Aren’t we?
Few years later, may be at six years old, I remember sitting in taxi in Mumbai traffic. The sun was shinning bright, it was a hot day, made even hotter by fumes of gasoline coming out from exhausts of buses and trucks. The traffic was waiting at a red light. There were people packed in buses, cars, auto rickshaws and bicycles. Many walking on the footpaths. People of all ages and walks of life, such diversity!
However there was one thing common. They were all in hurry! Their faces were frawned, their bodies all tensed up, their heads leaning forward, their eyes scanning surroundings without really looking at anything, their body movements were studden and jerky. As if they didn’t want to be here, in this traffic jam, they wanted to be somewhere else.
They were enduring the sun, the pollution, the noise, enduring it all, looking annoyed and discontent. As a child, I kind of enjoyed the sights and sounds, even the strong smell of gasoline seemed marvelously unique. I wasn’t exactly suffering but may be I should be suffering, I thought. Then the light turns green and I saw momentary relief on few faces before the faces tensed up again. Only eye contacts I had in a traffic was with another child. The kids used to see each other. They were there, they used to be present. They were not in hurry. But the kids are not role models for a six year old, adults are. So it felt something like this “Seems like I should be in this state of hurry. All adults are doing it. There must be something important about being in hurry, something cool, I dont know what it is but if all these powerful adults are doing it, there must be something and I don’t want to miss out on that.”
The state of hurry just got glamorous and desirable.
Being assimilated by hurry
Partly through imitation and partly through social structures, I started to hurry and I found that was easy to do. Adults encouraged that. Hurry to school, hurry back. Do homework in hurry, go to play in hurry, hurry back home. Do whatever but do it with this sense of constant urgency. It felt cool, you feel so much important and in control. Even in movies, the lead actors are always shown in a state of hurry.
The child in me realized that I don’t see adults blowing bubbles to just watch the bubbles, or looking at a flower to just enjoy the flower. No. They are in this continuos state of hurry, anxiety, and mild level of annoyance and suffering. That is the grown up way of being in the world. I wanted to grow up too. Lets grow up in a hurry.
I surely did. I soon forgot all about the magical, timeless, and rich experiences present moment awareness can bring. I am now almost always rushing to do something. There is always something to get done, somewhere to go, some goal to achieve. The imagined future, may it be 10 mins from now or 10 years from now, has become much more important than what this present moment has. The chronic internal feeling says “I want to get somewhere in life, somewhere else but not here, and not now. I need to get there, fast, lets hurry.” The present moment has become something to endure, to suffer through so that we can move past it and go somewhere else. This is the state of a typical human adult living in our civilization.
Once we are assimilated by hurry, we live to hurry. That becomes our style of being in this world even though that style may not be relevant. For example, even in our vacations, we are rushing with a checklist of places to visit and things to do, without really experiencing anything deeply. We take tons of pictures of beautiful places we visit but are we really there? Do we really give the time and presence needed to experience a place? We have many appointments, and rush from meetings to meetings but do we truly see the beings that we are interacting with?
Why do we hurry?
Now that I am fully grown adult, I should know the answer to the question my younger self often wondered about. “Why do we hurry? What is it good for?” So I gave it good amount of thought and following are some of the realizations
Percieved practical uses of hurry
We think that we need to hurry to do more in life, that the pace of life has increased and therefore we think we need to rush through life. But I don’t think it is completely valid reason. We have invented so many things to save time so that we don’t have to rush. We have cars, buses and trains to go to places faster. We have house appliances to get chores done in automated fashion so that we can get more free time but ironically our civilization is getting busier than ever, having less and less time to be present. No matter what we do to save time, we manage to fill it up so that we have to hurry. We also have experienced that being in rush and hurry many times creates problems, mishaps that take more time to fix than it would have taken otherwise.
So truly, being in state of hurry is practical for about only 5-10% situations of an average human lifetime and remaining 90% of lifetime can be spent being present. However most of us spend 90% or more of our lifetime being in state of continuous hurry and are almost never present. That seems like we are insanely addicted to being in hurry.
Emotional reasons for hurry
We feel that we are important when we are busy. This gives us a emotional sense of superiority. Being in hurry is also a perfect excuse to avoid emotional discomfort. You can pass by a beggar in hurry and that way you don’t have to see their suffering. You can be so busy with your work that you can avoid some painful conversations and realizations about your relationships or life situations. Hurry can act as emotional anesthesia.
Spiritual reasons for hurry
We don’t know how to be present. Our minds run continuously, like a software program that is gone in infinite loop. We continuously analyze the past and predict the future. We operate like a machine which experiences trauma. Either the trauma that we experienced in past or trauma that we fear we will experience in future. The gaps between our thoughts are so narrow and so infrequent that we seem to never catch a break. We can’t help but to hurry through life.
What do we loose by being in hurry?
We loose the experience of being here on this blue planet, full of life and beauty that one can only experience through present moment awareness. We lose on opportunities to create beauty, create order, we lose opportunities to heal our suffering, we lose chance to heal the world. By being in chronic state of hurry we hurry to just finish our lives without living them, without experiencing them. We are rushing towards our deaths, yearning to live someday, without realizing that the very essence of life is the present moment awareness and nothing more.
So my dear friend, I now realize that the way a child lives in this world is far more superior, wise, practical and creative than the way most adults live. It is humanity’s greatest failure that we can not sustain the quality of child like awareness in today’s civilization even though our lives are enriched in many materialistic and technological ways. It is ironic and yet there is a hint of possibility for gorgeous life experience that we can create here for humans if we can truly find out ways of establishing present moment awareness. I think we can do this, we should do this and we will eventually. We need to learn from children, we need to remember how we were when we were young. And therefore I suggest, take a moment to do something totally useless like blowing soap bubble just to watch to them float beautifully in the air and while you do that, see if you can remember the child that you once were.
Be still and know that you are.