As long as you feel rushed in life, you will never find ease, enjoyment or mastery in anything you do. One needs time for things to breathe and to emerge. This is the fertile void that constant busy-ness pulls you away from. Always being in a rush is a curse, and it is a status of mind.
Being in a rush is a curse
Rushing is sometimes necessary, for example when seeking urgent medical attention. But outside life and death situations, it is really not very desirable. Have you ever seen an animal awkwardly rushing around like humans do? I’ve seen quick and swift animals, but never rushing animals. Even a gazelle escaping the jaws of death manages to do so with a kind of grace.
Unlike our animal friends, the busy-ness of faux urgency is everywhere in modernity. We seem to be frantically running from one thing to the other, yet never quite being present with anything. Never managing to feel content with ourselves.
Part of it is to do with the culture of being productive. A culture where if you are not actively doing something, you feel that you are failing. Even if that thing is skim reading some journalistic industry report, while rushing through lunch before your next Zoom. All you really end-up with is indigestion. So, why do you bother? Just so that you can feel that you’ve read something ‘useful’? Like you’ve done something worthwhile?
It appears that we, moderns, need to constantly feel like we are making progress in order to calm our anxiety. Such that to simply sit and contemplate is a waste of time. Actually, forget contemplating, even to simply sit and eat is felt to be a waste of time.
Undercurrent of anxiety
So, it is this (subtle) anxiety of needing to always do something that we must look at. The feeling that you must always be “moving forward, making progress”! But, moving forwards towards what exactly? Fine, if you are digging a tunnel and you need to complete the last 20% of the dig!
However, the niggling feeling of anxiety that drives our rushing from one thing to another rarely lacks such specificity. We are rushing and we do not really know WHY we are rushing. And, the problem is really not about lack of time either. Firstly, why in the world do you have such a packed schedule? Secondly, even if you do, the feeling of being rushed need not be present, though it is harder not to feel rushed when you are squeezed.
So, there are two self-reinforcing things at play:
(ii) Being rushed by creating a packed schedule
(ii) Being rushed at any moment because everything you do is a means to some elusive end, regardless of your schedule
The two are connected and very likely to arise together. And, it is more likely that (i) is the result of (ii), than the other way around. I am yet to meet someone who has squeezed in a 1 hour sit down lunch, whom I have experienced as being fully present. I mean, who allocates just 1 hour to lunch at a restaurant, anyway? Either someone who doesn’t want to chat to you for very long, or someone trapped by their rushed schedule. Either way, I always make a mental note never to dine with that person again.
Achieving and striving
Always being in a rush betrays a kind of existential confusion in the modern human. One where we are so busy achieving and striving that we’ve forgotten what it’s all for. Everything is deferred to some future point that never really comes. Because when it does come, one is still looking forwards towards something else! And, this state of being can exist as an unconscious habit, where you are not even aware that you are doing it.
So, you can end up rushing your whole life in a state of anxiety, not realising how being in rush is a curse. And, it is we who curse ourselves, through our endless achieving. Only by becoming awake to this state of affairs do we have a chance of breaking free.
Being in a rush is a curse that stifles life itself
To rush constantly is to stifle life itself. Because every time that we rush, we are distracting ourselves from where we are — here, NOW. Whatever thing we are doing and the people we are with. And, this has major implications for developing skill and mastery in any field too. For only by fully immersing in it without rushing, can you access the fertile realm of creativity and growth.
So, to ask the question ‘to rush, or not to rush?’ is as fundamental as Hamlet’s own. Luckily, the answer for us is simple enough. What it takes though, is the courage to really ask the question!
Always being in a rush is a state of mind. And you have the power to notice it and change it.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.