Since birth people have been rushing me. Sit up, crawl, walk, talk. By 5, I was wise to the fact that I was supposed to keep it moving.
Hurry up. Hence the ceaseless interest in when I would start kindergarten? Tie my shoes? Sign my name? Prodded relentlessly into getting the proverbial show on the road, what followed were 13 years of ceaseless questioning from loved ones and strangers alike.
Interest ran high in my academic progress and, more importantly, when I planned to wrap it up. Junior High? Graduation? Which college? What major?
Obviously, there was only one explanation. I needed to get through each phase as quickly as humanly (or inhumanly) possible to clear the deck for the next player. Clearly, someone needs my spot.
Like a restaurant. Each time I achieve a milestone, someone is sure to be on hand to tell me to move it along. Forget Forrest Gump’s sage “life is like a box of chocolates.” Life, it appears, is a restaurant at the dinner hour. We need to complete each course as quickly as possible. Someone needs our seat.
The ink on the diploma was barely dry when it become apparent I was moving too slow in the personal lane. If I dated anyone for more than 15 minutes the inevitable questions would arise,
“So when are you two getting married?” Cleverly, I met that challenge by doing just that. Mission accomplished, I felt quite smug. For 30 seconds.
Before we had even cut the cake, well-wishers began whispering sweet nudgings in our ears. “When are you going to have a baby?”
At last. Following the birth of our first child, I thought I had at last reached the summit. Education? Check. Marriage? Check. Career? Check. Family? Check. Finally, I could relax and coast awhile?
Not so. Within hours of my son’s birth I was already being asked when, pray tell, we might have another baby? Time to move on, no dawdling in this spot.
Eighteen year old college students are asked to plan their entire lives from that day forward. People in their 30s are expected to have retirement plans in the bag.
Youthful 40-somethings are interrogated about their golden years, and all of us are harassed about our burial and supplemental life.
Even death, it seems, has a deadline. Grow up, get smart, get out, get married, have kids, make plans, empty the nest, retire, settle down, settle in.
What roses? Treating milestones like checklists, we rush hither and yon through each stage of life. Forget stopping to smell the roses, we are barely given time to glance at the blooms before being elbowed along to the next bush.
We get an education, a job, a partner, a child. Immediately we are asked what comes next? Where’s the rest? Will there be more?
It pays to remember to ask: Did you enjoy it? Pause for thought. Certainly, life is like a buffet. Yet sometimes it pays to relish what’s on your plate, rather than shoveling it all in methodically while you eye the dessert cart.
Take your time. Plant yourself and savor it while it’s yours. After all, you never know how long you’ve got your spot – or if your place in that particular line will ever come around again.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is taking life in the slow lane to a whole new, slow, level. She welcomes comment c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)