The Speed of Living

I was galloping between meetings. Several things of importance in today’s world were being discussed. Time, accuracy, and speed were the over-arching themes. Service level agreements, acceptable latency, how many milliseconds for the information to flow, how many minutes to first respond by human agency, how quickly things can be fixed, how businesses following-the-sun model could ensure that every minute was accounted for and so much more. 

Unbidden, the image from a few mornings ago rose in my mind. I had found a pair of turtles by a riverbank. I stopped and smiled to myself. It was a reminder, and I took a deep breath. The breath reminded me how shallow our breathing normally is – for I felt a great gulp of air rush in. The little turtles had done their duty: unknowingly, unwittingly. The fascinating creatures were sunning themselves by the narrow stretch of water. Slowly, unhurriedly taking deep breaths and lying contentedly by the water’s edge. The waters gently lapped just a few centimeters away from their feet. It was hard to see whether their eyes were closed or not, but one could not deny their sense of bliss. The morning sun, the fresh waters. 

Ever since, I have been adding small doses to this set of images in the mind’s eye: 

  • The heron standing peacefully in the waters of the bay just a few feet from me. Waiting patiently – not fidgeting nor making anxious movements.
  • The geese tending to their newly hatched goslings with energy – a noisy, happy family. 
  • A mild breeze blowing through the tall grasses by the riverbank – reminding us of the forces of nature. 
  • The great white egrets taking flight and flapping their wings high above – the joy of embracing the winds apparent in their movements.

Another day,  I had opened the double-paned windows just a wee bit, so that the sweet noises of the chittering of squirrels and tweeting of birds could float into the room. I stopped every once in a while, and somehow the sounds of nature outside seemed to still the throng of speed. Network speeds did not make the birds’ trilling any faster. The bustling squirrels outside were bustling regardless of the chime of the clocks and the ticking of seconds. The rose bushes grew, burst into buds and bloomed into great big blossoms at its own pace. The sunlight, soil, and the plant doing its job in harmony, at a steady pace.

As Alan Lightman says in his book, In Praise of Wasting Time:

The pace of life has always been driven by the pace of business, and the pace of business has always been driven by the speed of communication.

But wouldn’t it be nice if the speed of business was defined by the business of living?

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