Like many of us, I have spent many years juggling work, family, home, socialising and the numerous other demands on my time. Time pressure made multi tasking the norm. Again, like many of us, lockdown has imposed a slower pace of life on me. However, in truth, my slow down started long before lockdown.
Parkinson’s is a thief. It silently steals my time, as it progressively makes every day activities harder to do. Initially, this served only as a huge frustration. However, I don’t wish to spend every day feeling I should be doing more and feeling frustrated, so I challenged myself to see if I could think about things differently and sidestep the frustration.
Recently, when Covid regulations allowed, I was planning to take a very familiar 450 mile car journey. My usual approach would be to calculate how long the journey ‘should’ take and set myself an ambitious time scale in which to get there. I could do the journey within speed limits in around seven hours but there was never any pleasure in it, it was a means to an end. I put myself under unnecessary pressure and inevitably either arrived in ‘good time’ but exhausted or delayed by roadworks, ‘late’ and frustrated. Neither of these end results were very positive but both were entirely self imposed. I rarely needed to arrive at a given time for any reason other than one of my own making.
Realising, that Parkinson’s was never going to allow me to complete this recent journey as I previously would have done, I decided to take a different approach. I didn’t calculate how long the journey ‘should’ take or what time I ‘should’ arrive. I simply decided to do the journey on a day when I could simply leave when I was ready and to get there when I arrived! I decided to stop whenever I wanted to and see how the journey unfolded.
It turns out, I wanted to stop frequently! For breakfast, and again, not long after, for lunch. I stopped to look at the outlet stores in Gretna Green and had a little detour to revisit the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign we had celebrated at during our cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats. I stopped to photograph the autumn colours during a particularly beautiful part of the journey and my final stop was for a rest, when not far from home, an incredible fatigue washed over me. A little snooze, a brisk walk and I enjoyed the final few miles home. The journey took me eleven hours. I arrived relaxed and refreshed and for the first time ever, I had thoroughly enjoyed every bit of the journey.
The only difference between these journeys was my approach to them. I was able to shelve any frustrations and any thoughts of ‘must do’ and simply enjoy the slower pace. It was altogether a much more enjoyable experience. I am very aware, that our busy lives so often put us under time pressure but for those occasions when we have some choice, adapting our approach can make a real difference to how we feel.
I can say this, knowing I sound smug, like I’ve found the answer to one of life’s challenges because any sense of smugness was snatched away from me when I received a speeding fine for a section of the journey I was enjoying my journey so much, I hadn’t noticed a reduction in the speed limit!
My speed awareness course made me more speed aware in accordance to the law but I still feel I’ve learned another valuable lesson about speeding through life. Maybe, it’s not about the destination but about the journey after all.