CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I had a very humbling experience last week. I wasn't paying attention while driving and ended up practically running a stop sign -- yikes!To be honest, it wasn't even a "rolling stop." I was rushing to get somewhere and wasn't paying enough attention to what was really important.Fortunately, I was stopped by a police officer; and I credit the experience -- and that officer -- for a major wakeup call. What was I thinking? Well, that's just it. I wasn't thinking.The officer told me about a truck with a trailer that was making its way into the same intersection at the same time. I didn't see it. Apparently, though, we were seconds away from each other.
As I reflected on the experience, I found myself wondering why I was in such a hurry. And the term "Rushin' Roulette" came to me. By rushing around, I've actually put myself (and potentially others) in harm's way.Although this is certainly not my intention, I find that it's happening more frequently, and it totally goes against my philosophy of a peaceful and balanced approach to life (as well as the title of this column!).As a result, I'm experiencing some inner conflict, and I don't like it. It's true that I've had quite a bit on my platter lately, but that's no excuse. All of us are busy, and it doesn't give any of us a license to hurtle through space.While we all go through phases that require us to "step up our game" and juggle lots of things from time to time, it's when this behavior becomes the norm that it becomes dangerous.When we rush around, we really don't get that much more accomplished. And -- even if we do -- what does it cost us? We often show up in a harried manner; and it takes away from our quality of life (not to mention those around us that have to witness this sense of frenzy).In the long run, rushing around can even lead to greater stress in our lives, increased health problems and compromised relationships. So if you find yourself in this state more and more often, take a step back and ask yourself a few questions: Do I need to juggle all these balls at once? Are there some activities I could let go or delegate? Could I get an earlier start on that commute? How about breaking that project down into bite-size chunks? If I swap tonight's social activity for a hot bath and an early bedtime, will that make me more peaceful and productive tomorrow? Is it possible to get an extension on that deadline?
Just a few things to ponder. These fall more into the practical realm, but there are deep-seated behaviors that come with questions such as: Why do I have a need for speed? What's the payoff I'm getting? Am I just rushing around, keeping my platter busy so I can avoid the more pressing issues in my life? Am I addicted to the drama? Do I get a rush out of the risky behavior?
Perhaps the biggest detriment to rushing around is that we're squelching that still, small voice within -- our own internal GPS system. When we drown it out, we're not living in the present. We're not aware -- and our lives are thrashed about at warp speed. Beam me down, Scotty.As I look for the gift in that harrowing experience last week, I realize the cosmic and spiritual message of the backdrop that came with my lesson: a stop
sign.I also want to acknowledge the Charleston Police Department and the courteous and professional (although firm) conduct I experienced on that morning last week. I thanked the officer for the wakeup call, and we exchanged some pleasantries after all the drama.Ironically, my license plate reads "LIVE" (which is a reminder to me that this isn't a dress rehearsal -- and that I need to "live life fully.") The officer warned me that if I didn't slow down I may need to change my license plate!
Believe me, I've heeded the call. I'm keeping my license plate. No more Rushin' Roulette for me.Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications company specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.