what’s your hurry?

Capture

image is a model sailboat

When I was 25 years old, I met a man who would become a dear friend. Ten years my elder, he was already wildly successful in an industry that I was just beginning to crack. He was almost frighteningly smart, had a wicked sense of humor, and could pretty much do whatever the hell he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it.

Hours into what would be the first of countless hours-long conversations, he asked me a question.

“If you could sail around the world for a year, would you?”

“God, that sounds wonderful,” I said, wide-eyed.

“Anywhere I wanted to go?” I asked, nearly breathless.

“Anywhere,” he said, smiling.

I didn’t have to think about my answer,

“No.”

It wasn’t the time, I explained. “I’m just getting started,” I said. I told him about recent successes at work that were already  leading to others – the first in a row of victories I envisioned lined up like dominoes.

“I’m knocking the cover off the ball,” I said, as only a wide-eyed, breathless twenty-five year old could (or would), “I’d be a fool to walk away now.”

He leaned back in his chair and said, “This – this right here – is why I’m single. I want the woman who is exactly this fired up, this passionate about what she does .. who will say yes.”

Eventually he met that woman. And Luau and I couldn’t have been happier to have watched them say “I do.”

I think about that conversation often. I think about the rush that I was in – about my single-minded focus to succeed: to make money, to climb the ranks, to get access to the halls of power. And I think about what it cost me.

Yesterday, I posted a quote from a piece I’d written a couple of years ago called Rethinking Functional Behavior and the Tyranny of Made Up Deadlines:

Our children deserve to have childhoods. Happy ones. Comfortable ones. Playful and play-filled ones. Stimmy, squealy joyous ones. Ones in which they learn and grow and discover the world in their own ways.

But how does that happen when we’re always fighting the clock?

It doesn’t.

We have got to break free of this bullshit paradigm of artificial deadlines — of the need to rush, rush, rush to teach, teach, teach to drill, drill, drill — to make every moment a “productive opportunity.” Because when we release ourselves from that pressure, we allow our autistic children to BE CHILDREN. And by God, how freeing is that? (For everyone involved.)

Once we can all take that collective deep breath and agree that opportunities for growth and development are not finite, we give ourselves the luxury of looking at things through a different lens. A slower one. A less pressured one. An unpanicked one.

For the first time yesterday, I read my own words differently. What if it’s not just our kids who need the break from the pressure we put on them (and God, they really, really do), but US who need a break from the pressure that we are putting ON OURSELVES and they are just victims by extension?

What if I had taken a trip around the world when I was twenty-five? Would my opportunity for ‘success’ really have evaporated while I was gone or might I have discovered new avenues to much broader success that I would never have known existed otherwise?

What if Luau and I had waited to move out of the city or held off on buying a house or not felt at every turn that we were reaching, striving, filling the role of the people we thought we were supposed to be? What if we’d allowed ourselves to be the kids that we were rather than the grown-ups we thought we should be?

What if we’d just slowed down?

What if we’d let our lives build one brick at a time rather than starting with a tower? What if we’d given ourselves the luxury of looking at things through a different lens. A slower one. A less pressured one. An unpanicked one.

What if I’d sailed around the world for a year? What would it really have cost? 

I’m guessing a lot less than I would have gained. 

9 thoughts on “what’s your hurry?

  1. It really makes sense! I guess we’re just built to rush, rush and rush! It really sad especially when we begin to use the same yardstick for all people or our kids who simply want to be who they’re met to be!

  2. I’m still searching on how to do this (not a sail, but the same idea of travel and adventure), but with a family.It’s different of course – how to balance the carefree around-the-world learning experience with very real needs of a mortgage and providing stability and safety for my child? Perhaps we’ll find a way to do mini-“sails.” I think that’s just as positive a lesson – that having missed our chance doesn’t mean never.

  3. This makes a whole lot of sense but we live for today and all the tomorrows in front of us. We should learn from the past and make our lives better because of these lessons. Follow your stars from now on. There are so many more chances.

    Love you,
    Mom

  4. Wow. I’m not an easy crier. But your words just made me choke back a sob. I agree, we all need to lighten up on ourselves, our kids, our parents, whoever we’re trying to push to be something that they are not. Or do more than they need to do. And just have some FUN and do what makes us happy more often.

  5. A very unpopular mode of thought in my neck of the woods. I have a lot of type A close friends. We are alike in a lot of ways except this one. I can’t remember when I embraced it. But the moment I did, I began to breathe. In a way I’d never realized was an option. it used to come with attached guilt for not chasing goals that would be easier attained by me than most, for not taking the material opportunities, for not contributing in the way my low income parents considered contributing. Now, it doesn’t even cross my mind. It has become who I am. I’m still taken aback when someone asks why I’m so happy and content. They ask why I seem so cool all the time. No matter what life sends me I find my happiness. It’s bc I quit chasing it. It was here the entire time. And my children are learning by example. Here’s to the hope that we can hand our offspring our hindsight.

  6. Probably the truest words you’ve written. Wisdom even in the empty spaces between the lines. I am one leap ahead of you, age wise, and I hope you will reflect on the paradigm switch you are describing.

    Luna – We must be from the same family with the same friends:). However, I still can’t totally shake nor reconcile the guilt I sometimes feel – for the very reasons you described.

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