To steal the line from one of everyone’s favorite movies, but now to look at it from a different angle. Forest’s mama told him that life surprises you with it’s events just like the surprise of opening a box of chocolates, “never knowing what you’re gonna get.”
In my journal writing this morning I had a similar thought. My initial thought was thinking about life as a movie rather than a box of chocolates. The original title of this post was going to be, Life is Like a Movie. Let’s think about it that way for a minute. A movie. You sit down to watch a movie from beginning to end. It starts with the title and then ends with the credits. Like life, you’re named and you die. But what about the movie itself, the life?
If we press play to start the movie and let it play from beginning to end, how long will the movie last? Depends on the movie, but I would guess the length of the average movie is somewhere around 90-100 minutes. Life. Average life span is what, 60 years? That being what it is, 90 minutes, 60 years, or a box of chocolates with a certain number of chocolates in it, we have A LOT of opportunities to control the quality of those quantities!
The thought that got me started this morning was the realization that just about every task I set out to accomplish, I try and get it done as quickly as I can. If thinking in terms of the movie, I watch with my finger on the fast forward button. If thinking in terms of the box of chocolates, I open the box and stuff the chocolates into my mouth, one after the other. We arrive at the end of the movie, an empty chocolates box, much more quickly this way. With much less enjoyment, and even awareness, of what the movie was about, or how delicious the chocolates were.
So far I’m thinking you might be thinking, “well, yeah, this is obvious.” And I agree. But what I don’t think everyone has the same understanding about is the cumulative effect that living this way has on your body.
Living life in fast forward day after day has a very negative cumulative effect. At least it has on me. I’m not a scientist or psychologist. I don’t have a degree and haven’t done studies. I have read parts of some books on the matter, but am still only qualified to speak for myself.
It has become my automatic instinct to try and do EVERYTHING I do as quickly as I can. EVERYTHING. Thinking, talking, cleaning, writing, reading, gardening, showering, brushing my teeth, painting the walls, building a door, etc. This is a problem. A lot of the tasks I’ve set out to do are new to me. Like gardening, building doors from scratch, remodeling kitchens and bedrooms on my own, having a 55 gallon aquarium full of fish, growing vegetables from seed, etc. I’ve not done them before, at least not enough times to do them in fast forward and still do them well. Not enough times to have a grasp of what needs to be done in BETWEEN the beginning and the end. So what happens when I set out to accomplish a task?
First, I figure out step one. That figuring out, that planning phase, like everything else is done in fast forward, so often I will start, hit a wall, and then realize other steps needed to be taken first. The wheels start to come off because I’m so wired for speeding through the process. This causes all sorts of frustration. Anger at myself. Sometimes blame on others. Other negative thoughts and emotions that time and time again lead to breakdown. Breakdown after breakdown leads to task after task NOT being accomplished. I’m living in a world full of non-accomplished tasks. That’s on the surface, but what about under the surface?
Inside, I feel the effects of all those breakdowns. They don’t just happen and disappear. They fall on my psyche like an atom bomb leaving devastating destruction behind them. Fight or flight. I flee. I find a new task to try and accomplish while the previous task’s mushroom cloud is still blocking the sun and making it hard to breathe. Failed attempt after failed attempt blocks the sun more and more. Makes breathing more and more difficult. But I’ve been relentless. I tell myself, “Come on, you can do this! Well maybe not this, but this. Ok you can’t do that either, maybe this, or this, or this, or this, or….hey look, a squirrel!”
For years now, I’ve been living in a world of unfinished tasks. I’m FUULLLL of mushroom clouds, blocked suns, and oxygen deprivation. I can feel it. Tightness in my chest. Tension in my neck and jaw. Weight gain. Confusion. Anxiety. Depression. Loss of confidence. Denial? Breakdown!
My thought this morning was this, what if I had been living in slow motion for all these years? What if I start living in slow motion now?