The Starbucks I work at gets a steady stream of angry people. They're not angered over the millions dying from hunger every year. They're not angered over the hundreds of thousands of women and children being trafficked in the sex slave trade.
They're just angry 'cause they're in a rush. You'd be surprised at the depths to which people sink when they believe you are impeding the timely progression of their tight schedules.
When I first sat behind the wheel of a car at age 16, the first rule my dad told me was to never drive angry or in a rush. Now that I'm 24, I realize that the rushing aspect of his rule is probably the most important. The more you rush, the more angry you get. The more you rush, the less you pay attention to the little details that are going to keep you from hurting yourself and other people.
Over the last few years, I've developed my own rule: Stop rushing. Period. Stop rushing when I'm driving. Stop rushing when I'm walking. Stop rushing when I'm shopping, so I don't get home and realize I bought tomato paste, not tomato soup. Stop rushing when I'm having a conversation with someone. Stop overlooking the little details that are going to keep me from hurting myself and other people.
The most practical application of which is still while driving. Getting to my destination three minutes earlier is not worth the $100+ ticket and hit on my insurance, or $1000+ to fix my car because I didn't bother to see the car passing me on the left as I merged, or (as melodramatic as it sounds) the life that's taken because I was too rushed to see that kid crossing the street.
Not only that, that three minutes is not worth what being in a rush does to my heart and my mind and my spirit.
But as our culture is being swept by the avalanch of speed and efficiency, we're going to find it harder and harder to resist the rush rush mindset. We are trying to squeeze every second dry, we're trying to make time for all our new gadgets and errands and hobbies. At some point we realized we didn't have enough time, so we've been moving heaven and earth to fix our problem.
We didn't have time to walk in and get our already fast food; we needed to be able to zip through the drive-through.
We couldn't wait to get to our computers again to check our email; we needed our email sent to our cell phones.
We couldn't wait to meet people and develop relationships; we needed to streamline partner-shopping on a website.
We couldn't even shoot people quickly enough; we needed our guns to kill even faster.
I'm afraid that even though we have built for ourselves expressways and Blackberries and drive-throughs to save us precious seconds to be able to do more, we have missed the point. We've stopped savoring life's wine and instead have opted to just inject it into our bloodstream.
And we are less patient.
We are less kind.
We are less good to each other.
We are less faithful to each other, and to our values.
We are less gentle.
We are less self-controlled.
We are less alive.