Privilege Blog

Unhurried, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:18am

This year I made no resolutions. Oh, I quit my personal trainer in favor of yoga and walking, but that wasn’t a resolution. Just an action.

Instead I chose a word for the year. Immediately I’m a little embarrassed, I mean, that is not a High WASP behavior. Where’s the delayed gratification in a word, where’s the achievement? But it’s absolutely Californian and besides it’s working.

Funny story. I stumbled, somewhere, on a suggestion to do a five-day choose-a-word-for-the-new-year-exercise with Susannah Conway. “Why not?” I thought. I finished the first day, and maybe the second, but then I got totally impatient and picked my word without finishing the program. How is that funny?

The word was, and is, “Unhurried.” Just writing it now slows my breath.

I’ve said it before, I used to be good at the hurry. I had good eyesight – I could see where I was going. Good hearing – I could follow many conversations at once. Good memory – I could remember all the little bits that trailed, all the undone, all the priorities.

Good endurance. I could hurry and arrive intact.

But I can’t do it any more and besides, I’m retired. What would I hurry for? Sure, occasionally I need to arrive somewhere on time. But the part before I get there — the time I leave, the rate at which I prepare — that’s under my control. Now.

I could probably have hurried less even when I had small children and a job if I’d only taken the time to think about it. If only I had understood the importance of not using myself up.

No more hurrying. And the word, “Unhurried,” is lovely. Not bossy. If I’d chosen a command, I’d feel ashamed every time I had to use it. “Unhurried.” Like a wide slow river, surrounded by a flat meadow. Imagine an outdoor chair, a vista, and a glass of water.

This doesn’t mean I go slowly. It only means that I move at a speed I can support. I do not urge myself to the edge of my capabilities, I keep something in reserve.

In an unhurried day one has so much more time to pay attention. The space through which one is not hurtling communicates more fully.

Have a wonderful weekend.

47 Responses

  1. Such a beautiful post Lisa! Such a wise and wonderful word and decision
    I am with you,consciously and slowly!
    Have a beautiful weekend full of love

  2. What a great word! I needed that reminder. I am retired also and sometimes find myself getting ahead of myself. Thank you for this.

  3. As many of us have spent years with jobs, kids, house, husband, pets, you name it, we are all used to running around at breakneck speed. Unhurried is what we earn as the years go by. One of my favorite things is mornings with my husband drinking coffee in the living room, chatting away in an unhurried way. Ah, bliss!

  4. Beautiful post and I love your word “unhurried”. I think you are also “savoring”?
    It’s my first time doing a word of the year also.
    My word is “prosper” meaning to me to flourish, thrive and produce fruit in all that I do personally and professionally, seeing the results of the investments of time and self.
    I hope you will post your end of the year “unhurried” results?

    1. @Candace, I wish all good fortune and prosperity. I might forget to post the results of unhurrying, or they might be no more than they are right now, i.e. more breathing, but if someone reminds me I will totally write that post come December.

  5. Such a great word! I’ve been drawn to this idea of a Word to give shape to one’s year but so far haven’t adopted it, nor do I ever feel inclined to set resolutions at New Year’s. I tend to be running so many goals at once that my resolution would have to involve letting go, honestly. But I do love the practice, in yoga, of setting an intention for the day, even though I can feel foolish with the “New Age-iness” of it all. . . for example, having been fighting some persistent tendency to tears and depression recently, the words that bubbled up in yoga yesterday were Be My Happy! I mean, ugh to the grammar, right? and yet. . . .
    Seems to tap into that whole Right Hemisphere/Left Hemisphere thing that Jill Bolte Taylor talks about in her magnificent Stroke of Insight. Whatever slows down — unhurries! — our organising, dictatorial, goal-setting Left Hemisphere. . .
    Now back to my leisurely Saturday perusal of the weekend newspapers. . . .have an unhurried weekend!

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, I think we are allowed to, actually have to, suspend all inner judgment to do this woo-woo bit of retirement. And I find, at least for myself, that I have to do the woo-woo bit or else I’d rather just be at work.

  6. I love the spacious exhale of “unhurried.” This year I am inviting and cultivating “resilience.” Whenever I say the word to myself, I picture bare feet walking on new-grown grass, which gently springs back to attention, releasing the fresh scent of green. Perhaps I’ll wander across that meadow down to the river and join you. Sounds sublime!

  7. I think it’s a good word. It’s well known that in addition to eyesight, hearing and waistlines, the ability to focus one’s attention instantaneously leaves us in middle-age. Hurry is the enemy of attention.

    At this point in life if something is desperately life-threateningly urgent one’s response is reactive, as in “clear the airway!” Everything else can sit for a moment, unless it’s a medium rare roast in which case it should be served immediately, while we tune our considerable experience and knowledge upon it.

    1. @RoseAG, Do you find your ability to focus has lessened? I do. And that is one of the main reasons I like not hurrying, it lessens my fear of missing something.

  8. Love your word. I “borrowed” my word from Molly Fisk – “surrender”. Not an easy thing for me to do. I try to control too much. Maybe once I master mine, I will attempt to live more unhurried. Thank you for your blog. Love love love it. happy Valentine’s Day to you from Southern California hb

  9. Great choice.
    I’ve picked a word and a saying for this year..they are behind a great deal of what I am thinking and doing.
    The word is “reconnect”. So many people in my life that I loved, enjoyed, cherished, have gone by the wayside because of geography, time, whatever. I’m reconnecting with childhood friends, high school friends, people from my past. And I am finding it so incredibly rewarding.
    My saying: I’m in. Saying yes to anything and everything. Want to meet for lunch. I’m in. Want to travel somewhere? I’m in. If it involves going or doing, I’m in.
    It also works for the hard stuff…you need someone to help you out? I’m in. You need an organizer, a shopper, a sounding board? I’m in.

  10. Perfect! I am sitting quietly with my Sunday coffee and feeling inspired by your post. Unhurried is a great match for yoga and walking.

  11. This is refreshing. I am semi-retired and working from home. Often I feel I’m not doing enough. People constantly ask me what I’m doing with my spare time. As if time is running out and I need to be constantly moving, reinventing, challenging myself or my mind and body will turn to mush. Older people can be quite competitive about their level of fitness and activity. Instead of saying no, I am trying to say yes more often.

  12. Unhurried is a wonderful choice. My native personality lent itself to an unhurried flow. I think being unhurried and being in the contentment of flow are connected, though when I was young I didn’t consciously consider this. I fashioned college with later classes two days a week. When I began to work, I chose to arrive at 9 or 10, staying later, having longer lunches, coming in early only for a meeting, scheduling intense events for Tuesday through Thursday whenever possible. In a meeting with my startup’s CEO, when he suggested we reconvene the following Monday, I responded without thinking, “Couldn’t we do this on a workday?” by which I meant Tuesday though Thursday, since I felt Monday and Friday were often parts of long weekends for me or for others. Luckily, he knew me and how hard I worked, so we all just laughed, though I got my Tuesday meeting.: ) My meals are all emphatically unhurried with slow menu perusal, a beverage, then ordering, savoring, talking, all at a leisurely pace. Last night the man I’m staying with was explaining to his daughter and her boyfriend, who had stopped by, how long it takes me to have a restaurant meal, as though it were exotic, but in America maybe it is exotic, or at least atypical. Intervening events separated me from my native flow, so I’m consciously rediscovering it. The flow is returning. Rather than be in retirement. My goals are school and work which makes me fizz with the passionate joy of it. Even these things can be done unhurriedly. I know because I’ve done them that way. Your writing makes me realize this was who my dad was. He did things he loved with intensity, but never with hurry. I am a fast walker. It is my natural pace. My dad would stroll, with his hands in his pockets. I called him the slowest walker alive. But I am grateful for his example of quiet, slow attention to the beloved person, project, food, or event. As Frances mentioned above, I think Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight gives me a word for this year which has been floating around in my mind for some time, which is Present. In Bolte’s terms being present means choosing to step into the mindfulness of my right brain and being present without endlessly looping the past or worrying about the future. My therapist, who I adore, reminds me, “Where we put our attention creates our experience.” Lately, I’ve been practicing moving my attention to the positive present and gently soothing the anxious past and present thoughts. When they wander in, I gave them a comfortable chair and bring myself back to my positive Present. Happy Sunday. Thank you for providing me so consistently with beautiful words that make me think. xo.

  13. Thanks for this post, Lisa. I ranted a bit this weekend on my blog, in response to a famous fashion person saying they definitely were not retiring because they didn’t want to “sit around.” May have been a bit defensive, there. Tired of people saying … what do you DO all day. Lots of things, I respond, usually with a teensy bit of attitude. But they are things I choose to do, when I choose to do them, at my own pace. I love a very deliberate pace, and I hate hurrying. Almost as much as I hate people who try to make me hurry. You are so right; you can’t enjoy the view when you’re traveling at break-neck speed. As you said…otherwise…might as well be at work.

  14. Thank you all for your contributions to this most soul-full discussion. I have written down all of the suggested words and enjoyed reading each of your responses. I randomly bought a little set of flashcards when I was in the queue at Officeworks the other week and I have written the words on my new flashcards which were sitting in my drawer waiting for this moment.
    To recap: Unhurried, Prosper, Surrender, Reconnect, Positive Present. And my own: Self and Safe. Words that are powerful and words that resonate. Thanks All xxxx

    1. @Tracey, Ah, the universe holds our hands at the most interesting times! I like your words. Especially Safe. Such a big concept, but so simple a word.

  15. What a great idea! I wish I had allowed myself to be more “unhurried” when my kids were young. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to hear it at that stage of my life. We get the word we deserve at the right time, apparently. I’d choose “peace” as my word for the year. And I’ll leave it at that.

  16. That is a wonderful word. As a text book type A personality, hurrying was my default, I suppose, for most of my life. I was raised with the ethic of being on time. I find more and more now, that I am quite ok to saying no if I don’t want to participate in something. That avoids a LOT of hurrying. I do plenty, but at my own pace. I take my own car, avoiding “carpools” like the plague. I would not call myself a loaner but I’m not much of a herd animal anymore. I’m still sociable but these days, it’s more on my own terms. I’ve been at this awhile, I am 62. It happened gradually during my 50s. I just stopped rushing around so much. It turned out that it made very little difference to anyone but me what time I arrived anywhere. Excluding weddings, or graduations, or the theatre or symphony of course. I just start out good and early for those kinds of things.Then if traffic holds me up..meh..

  17. I TOO have used that word a lot in my daily routines at least the last three years………….WHY ARE YOU IN SUCH A HURRY ELIZABETH?SLOW DOWN…….breath.STOP for a visit with the mailman………….stop the car and take that photo that has been speaking to YOU before the flowering tree is gone!The other day I did a U ~ TURN and did just that!

  18. Does a phrase count? I have chosen Figure It Out. For me this means not being afraid or lazy to learn new things. Yesterday it was learning to use the power drill and finding an address without using my phone GPS.

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