I heard a fantastic story this week in an unexpected place. So full of wisdom and truth inside a simple package was this story, I could not NOT share it with you.
A while back Tim Ferris interviewed a guy named Derek Sivers on his podcast. (This is the aforementioned unexpected place part.) Derek shared some of his backstory: he worked in the circus for a while (fascinating), zoomed through Berkeley School of Music and later made a fortune almost by accident creating a website called CDBaby quite a while ago. Ya know, back when people bought CDs.
But the fascinating story Derek shared had to do with a bike ride he used to take in Santa Monica and it went something like this. Every time Derek went for a bike ride, he huffed and puffed and as Hero Hubs likes to put it ‘put his head down and got to work.’ He pushed as hard as he could with every cycle of the pedal, rode the bike path all the way to the end, and turned around to push as hard as he could back in the other direction. Simply put, homeslice was focusedon his bike ride.
Being the focused individual that he was, he arrived back at his starting point and consistently glanced at his watch to determine that the ride was 43 minutes.
Time after time, Derek took this ride, huffing and puffing there and back again. Unless the day was a particularly windy one, the ride always took about 43 minutes.
Eventually, the routine started to get old and he started to think, I’m not really enjoying this anymore. This should be fun, but it’s just not. He wondered if he needed to look for a new adventure, but decided first to try enjoying the bike ride instead.
On the next cycle, he decided not to huff and puff and blow the house down. He sat up in the saddle. He looked out at the ocean and saw dolphins. He looked up with surprise and saw a pelican (which pooped in his mouth). Perhaps other than the poop, he just “chilled” and, what should come as no surprise, enjoyed the ride this time.
When he got back to his starting point, he looked at his watch and realized the ride had taken 45 minutes, instead of the usual 43.
Yes. Forty-five minutes.
So all that huffing and puffing and hurrying? It only amounted to two minutes’ difference.
His takeaway from the experience was to slow down — not to get so stressed at trying to ‘maximize’ everything. “Be effective… and be happy.”
When I think about my own life, I think about how I occasionally realize I’m trying to stretch my calves or put lotion on my heels (it’s summer and they look scary!) while I’m brushing my teeth. I scurry to add two more things to the washing machine and forget I was filling up the sink to wash the dishes. And — what troubles the most — I don’t take my eyes off the screen I’m looking at to fully engage with the child right beside me.
What if living life to the maximum actually looks like looking at the one thing right in front of you, the one thing you’re really supposed to be doing, and doing that one thing well?
In The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom wrote about the time she spent in a concentration camp, where she was confined to a cell, alone, day in and day out. She watched ants and saved them crumbs. She stared off into the distance and laid alone on her mattress for hours on end. And she thought to herself she would never want to hurry or ‘multitask’ again, trusting she would be free again someday, and — what a privilege — have something to do.
We instead seem to feel confined because we have so much to do.
What does your pace look like these days? Are you rushing from one thing to the next, trying to squeeze every drop out of a moment by scribbling out an email while you wait for a pot to boil on the stove? Are you half-listening to the person on the phone because you’re checking your email at the same time?
Is it possible that you’re living at a frenetic pace for the sake of saving a lousy two minutes? Kneecapping your hours with rush and hurry for the sake of thirty seconds here and sixty seconds there?
Let’s try to slow down together. See the person in front of you. Savor the coffee beside you. Forget an hour ago and an hour from now for the sake of this. very. moment.
You won’t pass this way again, friend. Enjoy your right now while you have it. You might just find the same old bicycle offers you a completely new ride.
P.S. You can listen to the full Derik Sivers interview on Tim Ferris’ podcast. Warning: It has some potty talk and is not one you’d like want to listen to with your kiddos. It’s episode #125 I think. Also, Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place is available on Amazon. No potty talk there. But definitely some deep and powerful truth-telling.
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