“A life filled with movement, with constant motion and no rest stops, isn’t a life after all. It’s tourism.”
Man is life busy. I’m currently writing this at the Midway Airpot at a Potbelly Restaurant with my favorite coffee drink: Extra hot white mocha with a little caramel “drizzy-drizz”. I’m midway through a four-hour layover. I’ve learned how to navigate these times well. I walk. Then I sit. It’s interesting I’ve found when I walk, things become quieter. When I sit down, things get loud. I hear the music in the restaurant -the smell of the man sitting across from me with a very intense salad dressing. And I hear people who are upset, frustrated, and, well, in a hurry.
Eariler today I was in front of a middle aged couple. The wife got a random upgrade via TSA to what’s called “Pre Check”. Meaning, she didn’t have to go through as many hoops as everyone else. The TSA agents were handing them out randomly. When we were all waiting together, the wife shared the good news with her husband. The husband was not happy. His face got red. He was swearing. Wanted to register a complaint. He was outraged that his wife got a pass and he didn’t. Not fair, he said. Know how much extra time was saved? Minutes. They were in such a hurry. There was a moment there to celebrate something and didn’t. It was an “in between moment.”
My close friends need a double zycam after just looking at my pace. I like fast. I like excitement. I’m a dead poets society guy. Suck the marrow out of life. Live it to the fullest. Don’t leave anything on the field. Seize every opportunity. Insert over used phrase here. However, in the pace of how I live, am I missing something? Is there beauty in waiting? Is there something amazing that can happen in the quiet – in the slowness. Especially officially being middle aged, I’m feeling the clock begin to tick down. I want my life to matter. But what’s the real definition of “mattering”?
As I watch people walk by me, I wish I could hear every story. Everyone is coming from somewhere to somewhere. Some are headed to weddings. Some to funerals. Some can’t wait to get to their destination. Others dread it. It’s in this moment I’m thinking about where I’m headed. No, not just my flight. Where I’m headed.
The past few days I’ve been speaking to leaders on some of the tools and resources we’re building for them. Many days in airports and nights in hotels. When I travel I try to read a book as a goal. A few months ago I downloaded Jeff Goins’ book, The In-Between. It was the perfect book for this trip and this time. It’s a book that focuses on slowing down to live in the moments we’re given. It’s also a book of stories that emphasize when we do, we may find our calling.
Jeff writes from the heart. He tells stories and mixes in a few principles along the way. Here are a few of my favorite moments from the book:
- Maybe God is less concerned with exactly what I’m doing and more concerned with who I’m becoming
- Sometimes, all we need to do to find our calling is to look at what we love and see what’s always been there. The journey of discovering my life’s work was not a process of dreaming, but of remembering.
- A calling is something you can’t not do
- People don’t hate waiting when the know what they’re waiting for. What drives people nuts, though, is the postponements that happen for no apparent reason, the arbitrary delays and setbacks.
I love the fast pace. But I’m also realizing that I need rest. I need respite. I need balance. I need the slow just as much as the fast. That the real slow down would be to engage the guy sitting across from me with the smelly salad and spend an hour with him if he’d let me.
Can I confess something to you? I’m bad at slow. However, the older I get, the more I love it when it happens. I love going over to my friends house when our families get together and look forward to being “Uncle Jay” and finding a snuggly chair to cuddle up with 7 year-old Jasmin to read a book amidst the chaos. This week we’re hosting Gillian, a first grader, while her parents – our close friends – are out of town. I can’t wait to hang out with her and slow down. I’m on for breakfast, getting her to school and – if I’m lucky – reading stories and prayers during the tuck in at night.
Jeff Goins reminds me that maybe the real sweet spot in life is maybe not in quantity – it’s in quality. And that quality includes space in-between the chaos of life. It’s time for me to slow down. How about you?
Maybe that’s the point of the in-between. All things we wait for are not merely roadblocks on the long journey; they are the journey.