October 29, 2020

Get Out of the Fast Lane

I never understood the parable of ‘the hare and the tortoise’. Why would the hare choose to sleep and let the tortoise win? Surely such a metaphor can’t be applicable to real life…

The hare always wins. Right?

Growing up in London, I’ve come to understand that Londoners, and many like us, like to keep it moving. For Londoners, slowing down means dying, and nobody wants that.

So, we spend our lives in the fast lane.

We live by the unshakeable belief that the fast lane gets us to where we want the quickest.

Now, let me explain how my morning commutes have given me a new perspective:

The fast lane doesn’t always get you there first

On a typical day of work, I wake up and promise myself that I won’t lounge on the sofa after breakfast or daydream motionlessly in the shower. All of this so that I can comfortably get to work on time.

Obviously, I break my promise and now here I am, trying to make up the lost time on the morning commute.

As I’m driving in the fast lane, I zoom past a car travelling 20mph less than the permitted 70 and think to myself: “what’s wrong with them, don’t they value their time?”

Before long, I’m held up in traffic with drivers who, like me, are itching to cut every second of their journey. The slow lane on the other hand, appears to be less occupied, but us fast-laners don’t believe it’ll get us anywhere anytime soon.

So we don’t budge.

Moments later, the ‘slow car’ casually strolls past, its driver infuriatingly oblivious to our collective mission. We start to move again, but no matter how much speed the fast lane picks up, they’re far gone.

They beat us to the finish line. No care. No stress. No rush.

Life is full of people racing in the fast lane. It’s crowded. It’s claustrophobic.

Our intense, ‘productive’ schedules are often followed by periods of anxiety and inactivity. For our own health and longevity, it’s worth considering taking our foot off the accelerator.

Sometimes, the slow lane might just be the quickest way to the finish line.

The fast lane is packed. Try the slow lane, it’s empty there.

Don’t miss your turning

It’s difficult to make the right decisions when you’re travelling 100mph in the fast lane; that’s when mistakes are made.

We’re often progressing in life so quickly that we fail to see the signs of when to change direction, or even stop entirely. Even if we do manage to catch sight of our exit, we’re in the wrong lane.

Give yourself time to reflect and take in your surroundings. Life gives us plentiful opportunities to be present with our families, support others in times of need and even re-evaluate important life decisions, but you can’t focus on much else when you’re travelling at 100mph.

Get out of the fast lane. You might miss your turning.

Don’t lose sight of your destination

Once we’ve travelled many miles into our own personal highway, it can be difficult to remember why exactly we set off in the first place.

Whether our goal is money, respect, career progression or otherwise, we can all relate to having inadvertently changed direction towards a new, unanticipated destination.

Take the time to reflect on where you’re headed, and whether this mirrors your initial intentions. If it doesn't, was the change intentional? Or, did you lose sight of why you set off in the first place?

It’s easy to trick the outside world into knowing where you’re headed. We often ‘bury our head in the sand’ and ignore answering our difficult questions.

Don’t be so fixated on the road ahead.

It’s only on the stormy days that we’re forced to slow down long enough to ponder the idea of turning around. And if you do, ask yourself why you’re having this gut feeling; it’s telling you something.

And if you’re frightened to turn back when everyone is moving forward, just know that you can both be headed in different directions and still be going the right way.

The fast lane is relentless and unforgiving.

Now I understand why the hare fell asleep.

Maybe, we should start being the tortoise.

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Every week, I write about self-development, meaningful living and all things that matter.
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