The word that has been tapping my heart on the shoulder the last few weeks…slow.

I don’t do slow so well. And when I do slow down, a little panic button gets pushed in my brain. It activates an alarm for about fifteen minutes until my brain recognizes that I’ve actually grown more productive since I held my horses.

I don’t understand it. It seems like if you want to get more done, you should do things really fast. But I think what happens when I slow down is that I can take a moment and remember my priorities. Then I can make some wise and deliberate choices about what I’m doing rather than putting out seemingly urgent…squirrel!…fires.

I think this is a big thing for us to download this year. Going slow actually makes us go fast. Going slow makes us see that life is happening right now. Hurrying is destination-obsessed, thinking that we’ve got to scramble so we can quickly get from A to Z. And by the time we get to Z, we’re already preoccupied with the next over-there. So we don’t just miss the destination, we’ve missed every bit of scenery on the way.

This isn’t anything new. Ever since the Ten Commandments, people have known about the need to slow down, rest, and be present. There’s a reason. It’s important.

We should take some time to check if all these cliches we’ve heard our whole lives, i.e. stop and smell the roses, (and if you live in LA, you can actually do that. Sorry Polar Vortex sufferers.)…to check if these cliches have actually made it into our heart and experience. They’re cliches for a reason. Most of the time they are true.

The other day I was watering our veggie garden and I realized that I get more enjoyment out of watching the plants grow than I do harvesting and eating them. Made me think about my grandfather (Papa) Basil Jessup who had a massive garden every year and would give me the tour every few days of how the plants were growing. It delighted him so much to see things grow. And I realized that life should be the same way.

We believe that the actual event we’re preparing for (the audition, the opening night, the career-defining moment) is the real thing, the magical occurrence that will mark the beginning of real life. After that, then we have permission to really enjoy ourselves. Every moment up until then is drudgery that we just have to endure waiting for the big thing.

That’s a lie. And it sucks the joy and life right out of us, making us whiny and complainy and scared that the life-validating event may never happen or pan out. Hard to enjoy anything when we’re complaining and full of fear.

So here’s what I propose. Literally slow down. Walk a little slower, drive a little slower, talk a little slower (this is a powerful tool in that audition room, too). Take your time to plan your days based on your priorities, not on the fires you think you have to put out or the people you think you need to please. They probably care more about what you can do for them than they care about you. If you slow down, I bet you an ice cream cone that you will see yourself accomplishing more, seeing pockets of time you didn’t know you had, and appreciating things like hot running water, food and shelter, and friends in new ways.

Then you just might be a little freer to be an encouragement to the people around you. When we hurry, we are self-occupied (i.e. trapped), and we believe that everything is our responsibility. Lies. When you slow down, you trust, and you change the atmosphere wherever you go.

So that’s my encouragement to you and to myself. Let’s all walk a little slower and take the time to see the people and things around us. You might be surprised at how quickly you get to those surprise destinations that are so much better than the ones you thought you were heading for.