We measure cars by how fast they can go from zero to sixty. My husband once told me that the more important statistic is how fast they can go from sixty to zero. Lately I have come to feel that his words of wisdom can be applied to life in general. In our culture we value how quickly people can go from zero to sixty (and then eighty, ninety..) and how long they can function at maximum velocity. We almost never value the opposite- how easily do people slow down, from sixty to zero (or twenty) and how well they stay there. Going from sixty to zero in cars is about safety. In life, it is about sanity and health.
In our non-stop work world, we regularly work 50+ hour weeks (more in certain professions) and then come home only to be harassed by emails from work, the call of social networking sites and the other stresses of daily living. Our children, stretched to the breaking point, are being steeped in this culture too- running from sports to music and then back to the house for hours of homework. They do not have time for play or family. Constantly scheduled, they do not how to be still.
Living such high velocity lives takes a toll on our bodies and minds. We know from medicine that stress is a factor in heart disease, depression and even diabetes. We know that lack of sleep diminishes health and well-being. And yet we push ourselves harder- order another coffee, energy drink, or take medication to help us push through. When we are too wired from the stress (and coffee, and energy drinks and meds), we anesthetize ourselves with alcohol and sedatives.
This holiday season give yourself a present. Slow down. Go from sixty to zero and enjoy the space it gives you. Ignore email, your cellphone and the internet. Let them zoom past you at the speed of information. Pull over and enjoy the view. When you are still, you gain perspective. When you are quiet, you hear the sounds of life- laughter and music. At zero, more is available to you.
Of course, we cannot live at zero. But maybe, after sitting there a bit, you will decide that when you speed up, you only want to take it to forty.