Living Deep Instead of Fast

by Phylis Clay Sparks

When was the last time you drove on a highway at the speed limit? If you did, you probably felt as though you might get smeared all over the highway by the cars speeding around you. Most of us do everything fast in today’s world. We eat fast food fast, drive fast cars fast, get bored if we’re not watching a TV show or movie that’s fast-moving and action packed, and we even fidget when we’re sitting still because our bodies and minds are attuned to always doing something.

In addition to fast-moving, we’ve become a nation of multitaskers. How many cars do you pass every day with drivers using their cell phones to talk or text? But, maybe you haven’t noticed because you’re busy juggling your own cell phone, steering wheel and bottled water, not to mention thinking about your to-do list as you take a bite of your burrito. The other day I passed a car where the driver was reading something balanced on his steering wheel. I’ve seen people driving while eating lunch, putting on makeup, and reaching into their back seat looking for something which just couldn’t wait until they stopped the car.

We’re so stressed about all we have to do, that even our to-do list gets written in such a hurry that it might say something like “thank my car” and “wash my boss.” Most of us are trying to squeeze so much into our day that we hardly have time to notice the roses much less smell them.

Okay. So we get the idea that we need to slow down and smell the roses and relearn how to do one thing at a time. But then what? Well, we get to learn what it means to live deep and suck all marrow out of life rather than speed through it and miss the whole point of truly living. It was Henry David Thoreau who said, “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived.”

Most of us are living fast as we participate in a quest for something. That quest is about acquiring things, getting attention and approval, and pleasure-seeking. It’s all about an external search for happiness. Living deep, on the other hand, is about an internal realization of peace, joy, awe and reverence. It’s about balance, self-mastery and learning to be mindful in the moment. Living deep is learning to notice the beauty all around us, feeling gratitude for our many blessings and focusing on solution rather than becoming addicted to worry.

Our obsession with getting something from life and constantly doing, has cost us our being. Our rush to get somewhere has blinded us to that which is right where we are. Gandhi has said, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

Living deep requires slowing down. It requires mastering life rather than just hanging on for dear life. It’s about cultivating the ability to feel peace by not always wanting to be somewhere else or doing something else, but being truly present with whatever we happen to be doing. It’s understanding that what we truly want we already have, if we but notice.

If you really touch your inner being at the depth I’m talking about, you will feel contact with that which is grander than you. You will honor yourself enough to create balance in your life. And, because of the way the laws of this universe work, when you become peace-filled inside with a sense of self-respect, you will tend to treat yourself better. When you treat yourself better, other people treat you better. When you feel good about yourself, you will feel energized, inspired and motivated. And you will begin to live deep instead of fast.

Phylis Clay Sparks is a professional speaker, teacher, workshop facilitator and author of SOUL-ESTEEM: The Power of Spiritual Confidence. She is the founder and Spiritual Director of The Soul-Esteem Center in Maryland Heights, Missouri.