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Unhurried and Wise

“Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments. If we respected only what is inevitable and has a right to be, music and poetry would resound along the streets. When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence, that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the shadow of the reality. This is always exhilarating and sublime. By closing the eyes and slumbering, and consenting to be deceived by shows, men establish and confirm their daily life of routine and habit everywhere, which still is built on purely illusory foundations.” — Henry David Thoreau, Walden

I logged on to a Software-as-a-Service account I use for work thinking I’d quickly check a box that was nagging me. Upon login I was prompted for a mandatory password change, adding another box to check instead of eliminating one. So it is that even the quickest tasks lead to more tasks, and the whirl spins our heads just when we think we have it all figured out.

Some of us aspire to be unhurried and wise. Certainly, during the pandemic we all examined our priorities. Many pivoted to more meaning, while others leaped back into the familiar trap of distraction. I was somewhere in between, with an inclination to seek waterfalls and summits balanced by a series of compelling shows streaming on too many services to count that I simply had to catch up on so I could keep up with the conversation. I never quite met my objective on either count, but don’t feel compelled to finish any of them at the moment. Checking boxes is a game, and there are times in our life when we grow tired of games.

When we make time for nature and poetry in our lives, we aren’t being frivolous, we’re seeking the essential. To do this properly is to eliminate distraction and focus on where we are now. Some of us become masterful in adding one more thing to the list, thinking it will be the one thing that will fulfill us or at least make the day complete. This is a form of frenzy, which is never an attractive state. Better to shorten the list than shorten our state of awareness and calm. The goal of life should never be to rush through it.

If I aspire to anything in this stage of life, it’s to move closer to unhurried and wise. By all accounts I’ve got a long way to go in both respects, but there’s no rushing to unhurried, and there’s no shortcut to wise. It begins with shorter lists and lingering longer on the quietly beautiful magic around us. Some tasks are inevitable, but they should never be at the expense of what has a right to be in this moment.

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One Comment

  1. “there’s no rushing to unhurried, and there’s no shortcut to wise” what a quote! I guess this says a lot about how I live my life because I have a list that gets longer than it shortens, but I do not feel intimidated by it.

    This is a very wise advice. I, too, have been trying to slow my life. I’m very young (26) so I am very blessed that I got this message at that early in my life. I want to slow down the pace and enjoy life more. Get off the train…take a walk through town.

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