⏱️ Letter 140: What’s the Rush?!
Channeling patience in 2022 because the tortoise wins against the hare in the end after all right?! About Time, Gladiator, Chronos vs. Kairos, Robert Pirsig, Les Mis
We’re at 503 learn-it-alls, what an exciting milestone! If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the others:
Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii 🌺
I’ve felt lethargic this week. Like the least productive human-doing ever. It felt like that first week back to school after summer vacation. You know the one where your brain feels like a marshmallow and your body feels like a potato.
If you’re keen to hear from some folks on how to overcome lethargy there are some brilliant responses in this thread, so thank you to those who responded. Much appreciated!
Anywho, I’ve been daydreaming about tagging along with some friends going on a trip to New Zealand, and I want to spend my 27th birthday there in February.
This makes me freakishly uncomfortable to ask you for money. In the 140 weeks of writing these letters, I’ve never once asked for money before. SO here’s to me leaning into discomfort in 2023. This trip is on my wishlist here and I appreciate your financial support!
If you help fund my trip, I’ll give you a special shoutout when I inevitably write about it in February.
Now, let’s dive into letter 140 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓Question to think about
What’s the rush?!
Have you ever paid attention to what happens after a plane lands?
Last night when the plane landed in Honolulu, some folks were clapping. Unsurprisingly, there was the instant clanking of the metal belts being unclipped. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a massive wave of urgency to deplane as I’d viscerally felt when I landed at LaGuardia in New York last September. On that plane, everyone had to assert the urgency to get off the plane by standing and getting their suitcases.
Similar to feeling peer pressure to J-walk across the sidewalk, everyone is determined to get somewhere. No matter where it is, people love acting like time is the most precious thing on this earth.
The tortoise wins against the hare in the end after all right?!
Life isn’t about winning though. Sure, urgency can lead to action, but that is a short-term game I am playing. If I zoom out on the time I have realistically, I can be more intentional with the choices I am making. Direction is more important than speed.
So what is all this rushing actually about?!
Time is *the ultimate commodity*.
We only have 24 hours of it today, tomorrow, and until our deathbeds. It’s easy to look at this constraint with scarcity and create a sense of urgency that drives motivation. (aka to get sh*t done.)
BUT this also makes us look at life in fear of death. Or as my brother sarcastically and philosophically stated during aprés ski last week, “Life is just delaying death.” Talk about morbid, I know.
Having a polar opposite mindset of abundance feels reckless and I don’t know if I would ever *not* procrastinate with that mindset. Exhibit A: Twilight saga’s immortal vampire Edward Cullen’s bookcase and music collection. Exhibit B: If I had forever to become a writer, then when would I actually send out these newsletters? In a backward way, death is what forces me to push publish each week to prove my identity as a writer.
SO instead of living in fear, what’s the second-best option? It is to view time more mindfully and live in the present moment. For an overthinker like myself, this is much easier to type out and tell you to do than for me to actually practice.
Think about this hypothetical situation: if I rush the day-to-day of the week to get to my exciting plans on the weekend, then that means that five sevenths (five out of the seven days) of my working life is focused on the future rather than embracing this moment. The time where my feet are right now is the most important.
I’ve been seeing the saying "slow is smooth. smooth is fast." pop up again and again in the productivity bubbles that I find myself swimming in. This is a manipulation of choosing to be slow not to be kinder to myself, but to reverse engineer the process to create results that soar. Example: I type with higher fluency when I slow down to type accurately rather than rushing through.
I typically tend to regret any decision when I make it rushed. With this kernel of insight, I dedicated this past year to patience.
Patience took shape in my life in 2022 in many unique and unplanned ways. None of them had immediate gratification. A handful of them:
Sending notes by post mail and waiting for them to be received by the recipient
Quitting caffeine and waiting for my body to wake up before my brain did
Becoming sober and needing to be in the mood to have fun rather than having an inebriant to prompt it
Waiting to wax body hair instead of shaving
Using the sun to wake up instead of an alarm clock
Spending Wednesday nights meditating for two hours
Patience is what keeps me calm and steadily listening more to my body. With patience, my metaphoric sailboat is at an even keel.
Sure, this makes me more like a grandma to embrace slowness, but I’m a groovy hip grandma. I’m ‘cheersing’ to the others out there with my sparkling cider at sunset so I still have time for my evening routine!
Try it out. Keep patience top of mind and move mindfully throughout the world. Leave a comment and let me know how it goes!
🎬 Watching About Time
This decade-old movie About Time struck a chord with me and a new way of looking at the passage of time.
My favorite line is also the last of the movie “We're all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”
Some other notable quotes:
“And so he told me his secret formula for happiness. Part one of the two-part plan was that I should just get on with ordinary life, living it day by day, like anyone else…. But then came part two of Dad's plan. He told me to live every day again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing. Okay, Dad. Let's give it a go.”
On living a day fully:
“And in the end I think I've learned the final lesson from my travels in time; and I've even gone one step further than my father did. The truth is I now don't travel back at all, not even for the day. I just try to live every day as if I've deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.”
On how there are abundant worries in life:
“There's a song by Baz Luhrmann called Sunscreen. He says worrying about the future is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life will always be things that never crossed your worried mind.”
🎬 Watching Gladiator
The buttons on your collar
The colour of your hair
I think I see you everywhere
I want to live forever
And watch you dancing in the air
🔍 Words to define
Chronos vs. Kairos as defined by Anne-Laure Le Cunff:
Patient: Expectant with calmness, or without discontent; not hasty; not overeager; composed.
🌟Quote to inspire
“I don’t want to hurry it. That itself is a poisonous twentieth-century attitude. When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.” –Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
📸 Photo of the Week
I watched Les Misérables for the first time this past week in the Fisher Theater of Detroit. Sure I was a bit confused but it all came across in the end. Such beautiful acting, music and singing. Heck, I left that theater inspired wanting to pick up voice lessons to learn to sing.
To Austin Kleon’s newsletter for introducing me to the phrase “Dead Week” originally written by Helena Fitzgerald in All Hail Dead Week, the Best Week of the Year
Dead Week… is a week off from the forward-motion drive of the rest of the year. It is a time against ambition and against striving. Whatever we hoped to finish is either finished or it’s not going to happen this week, and all our successes and failures from the previous year are already tallied up. It’s too late for everything; Dead Week is the luxurious relief of giving up.
To Dennis Schug for being my lucky 500th reader! (he tweeted about it here)
To Adrian Strobbe for launching his first newsletter yesterday! I found his assessment of his goals in his 2022 review inspiring with their brutal honesty.
To Michelle Varghoose for landing a job for the course we took together in November, Daniel Vassello’s Small Bets, and for sharing her Reflecting on 2022. I found the deep-dive stories to be so relatable.
I appreciate you reading this!
If ideas resonated, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet. If you forgot who I am, I welcome you to my online home.
Never stop learning 😁
PS - If you missed last week’s letter, here’s ✨ Letter 139: Goodbye 2022 & Hello 2023
If you’re reading this because someone shared this newsletter with you, welcome! I’d love it if you subscribed:
Wahoo I finally got to 500 readers!
A journal entry from a year ago coming true:
On fine dining:
On spreading happiness:
A moment that I captured:
ahh what a pleasant surprise to be reading your newsletter and seeing a mention to my essay! thank you so much for the shout out and for all the support on this journey 🙏
Now I want to see Les Mis too!! Excellent issue Jen, thanks for sharing