“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller
I do my best in the morning to get out the door at exactly the right time to avoid the worst of the traffic. Recently, it doesn’t matter what time I leave as I’ll be sitting in my car fully stopped on the freeway for most if not some of my commute. I’ve accepted this begrudgingly, and subscribed to at least 5 podcasts to occupy my mind.
This morning was one of those mostly parked then move a little bit mornings. I arrived in the city where I work and noticed a couple jaywalking across the street with an elderly woman. The couple had a hold of her jacket and were pulling her across the street faster than her legs were comfortable moving. You could clearly see it all over her face. She was scared and uncomfortable moving at that pace. It made me mad. I called my Mom and told her when her legs don’t move that fast anymore, I promise to never drag her across the street. I’ll hold her hand, we’ll go to a crosswalk, and take our time through the intersection.
Even running late to work it’s not going to make that much of a difference in my schedule to stop and wait for someone who doesn’t move that quickly to walk across the street. It doesn’t make that much of a difference to any of us. You’ll get there when you get there. Your time may be valuable and scarce to you, but if you don’t slow it down every now and again you will miss so much.
I have my girls to thank for learning this. When they were younger their little legs didn’t cover as much ground as my stride would. Plus there are all kinds of interesting things to look at. Rocks, flowers, weeds, bugs, animals, clouds, people, and everything and anything in between. They are learning through experiences and are interested in the world around them. The only way to make good time with a toddler is to carry one, and that doesn’t always go over so well because they have kid stuff to do. I stopped trying to get my girls to move as fast as I did. I’d hold their soft little hands and look at the rocks with them. I’d limit the number of flowers they could pick at a given time to less than 5 before we had to move on. But I slowed down. To this day I stop what I’m doing and put off cleaning the house, which is hard for someone who is OCD such as myself, to just be with them in the moment.
Before my Grandma passed away I would hold her hand when we went shopping. Usually looking for the perfect grey purse. She was never satisfied with the grey purse she just bought. There was always one out there that would be better than the ones she had found before it. Most of them were never purchased because they just weren’t right (Side note: I know where I got my never ending search for the perfect black purse from). But I would hang back and walk with her. If I had moved ahead, I might have missed a purse or two but more importantly I’d have missed that connection with her. I still notice grey purses to this day and wonder if that might be the one she would have wanted.
Working in western healthcare, before I was fortunate enough to move into naturopathic medicine, you are always pushed to keep going faster. You are never fast enough or quick enough. When our elderly patient’s with cold hands needed a finger stick, I could have had them put their hands under hot water, given them a warming hand pack, or filled a glove with hot water for them to hold (my least favorite of the bunch) in order to warm up their cold hands. This is needed so the blood will flow well enough to complete the finger stick successfully. Instead, I’d sit there and hold their hands in my frequently hot hands and we’d talk. We’d chat about the weather, about their lives, about my girls, or anything in general. It was a personal connection that is so often missing in western medicine and probably one of the many reasons I didn’t fit in that area of medicine well. After all, holding hands with a patient and chatting about what was on their minds or something to distract them from whatever brought them in to the doctor, wasn’t quick or fast enough.
Young children and elderly people are obviously at different stages in their lives. We can learn something from both of them for those of us in the many years in the middle though. The lesson is to slow down. With young children, explore together and learn about all the amazing things this world has to offer. From elderly people, reflect and observe the world as it’s changed and grown. Hold hands no matter the age and walk slowly to take it all in. Take breaks to just sit and be or inspect what’s under that rock. Don’t push those little legs or those older legs that just don’t move the same as they used to, to rush across the street and through life. We get so little time with children before they grow up quickly and so little time with those around us who are closer to the end of this chapter in their lives, that we really need to just stop, lift our heads up from our lives, and look around a little every now and again before we realize that life just passed us by.