IVP - Strangely Dim - Pace and Peace

August 12, 2009

Pace and Peace

I wrote the following three years ago. The details have changed, but the story remains the same. Consider this "Escape from Urgency" in our Summer of Escapist Fantasy.

***

I just walked into a wall. It wasn't like I had my head in a comic book or was testing to see if I had sonar or anything; I just walked into a wall. My head was somewhere else.

This weekend my eighteen-month old nephew ran into a wall. He was so excited running down the hallway that he turned too early. It was cute because he's so little, and he's cute when he runs, and he got over it quickly. But I'm not little, I wasn't running, and I'm clearly not over it. Not cute.

I've noticed lately that when I get stressed, I start to check out. I don't listen as well when people talk to me, I don't notice how people are feeling when I see them or talk to them. And lately it seems like I can't stop running, like I'm facing wave upon wave of hyperactivity--family visits here, road trips there, writing projects there, special events here. I'm coping by checking out, which is clearly not coping at all, if it means that I'm stepping on toes and walking into walls. . . .

It strikes me that a person is much less likely to slam into a wall while walking than while running. At the very least, it's easier to stop, but walkers are also more likely to be aware of their surroundings--unless, of course, their minds are racing and their heads are somewhere else.

I came across this passage from Henry David Thoreau's Walden, which I think offers a pretty astute analysis of the crisis of pace: We think we have to know everything, even though we cannot, and so we strive continually and thereby gradually and unrelentingly run ourselves down.

Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them. Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market. He has no time to be anything but a machine. How can he remember well his ignorance -- which his growth requires -- who has so often to use his knowledge?

So I'm going to try to run less and walk more. As soon as I can pry my head out of this wall.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at August 12, 2009 8:27 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments

Thanks for posting this again, Dave. Lately, I can very much relate to this, and it reminds me of when we took the kids to a nature museum a month or two ago, and walked a trail along the Salt Creek. While I just kept walking, just thinking of all that is going on in our lives and our final destination, the kids got excited and pointed out to me animal footprints, frogs, catepillars and butterflies that I hadn't even noticed. Sometimes we have so much on our minds, that we cannot even see all that is around us. Anyway, your blog reminded me of that, and I thought I'd share.

Steve

Comment by: Steve Zimmerman at August 15, 2009 8:56 PM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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