I must have been in my twenties when I came across a road sign in Maharashtra saying, “Halu Chalu Apadu, Thokhad Aaye”. The phrase roughly translates into - Go slow… Watch out! You will be hitting a hurdle.’ The profundity of that simple signage struck me and years down the line, it still rings true in my ear. When we are driving on the road, speed breakers serve a protective purpose. They ensure that we check our driving speed, lest an accident occurs. If you’re speeding and overlook the bumper, injuries are bound to occur. Incidentally, it also rings the same bell in life. . Sure, speed is necessary, but it is not everything. It’s a universal truth that impulsive decisions often lead to irrevocable consequences.
In the fast-paced modern ‘Mc’Donaldization’ (coined by sociologist George Ritzer) of our era, we often tend to neglect the little moments of our lives, as we constantly race to achieve a goal, close a deal or reach a place. In most scenarios, we end up making rash decisions, be it in our personal or professional lives, and we abruptly jump over metaphorical speed bumps on the way. We all take our own time to fulfill our personal desires, and it is unfair to equate our stories of struggle. Our society is plagued with rushing, racing and competing. We’re consumed with the thought of what comes next, so much so that we never stop to admire life the way it is unfolding in the present.
Slowing down sometimes in life, helps us to pause and reflect, and makes it easier to take conscious decisions. When we allow ourselves to slow down, we give ourselves the space to think through things and make principle-centric decisions. It also allows us to make room for small mistakes. Experimenting with a small risk is better than experimenting with a huge risk. Sometimes, these metaphorical roadblocks allow us to take more time to analyze, strategize and anatomize the situation, before picking up speed again.
Speed is important in life, but it also leads to fatigue. The faster you wish to achieve a goal, the faster you reach the stage of burnout. Finishing any kind of work in a hasty manner might not be ideal as one tends to skip out on the minute details. Studies show that in order to multitask, you actually need to split your brain activity, which means less focus and less efficiency. Completing one project at a time with utmost diligence is the new on-the-job requirement, in most offices around the world.
Take the example of this didactic proverb that has been passed down through generations –
“I killed a snake, a long beautiful snake, a beautiful creation of god. It came my way.”
You might wonder what went wrong in the proverb. The only fault of the snake was that it came in the way of the person. This is why slowing down becomes necessary when we are driving down the ‘Boulevard of Life’. It teaches us the art of being mindful and reminds us that the best way to cross a hurdle is not always through it. Sometimes the best way to cross a hurdle could be to change the path altogether.
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