Take Your Time
One afternoon, some years ago, I was buying a gift for someone. I no longer recall what the gift was or who I was buying it for. What I do remember was a feeling of impatience. I was anxious to have it wrapped up. I wanted to get out of there. The woman wrapping the gift seemed to be taking a very long time. She slowly and carefully folded and taped the wrapping paper. Then she chose some striped ribbon and tied it around the package. Then she began to pull out the thin part of the ribbon to make it into a fancy bow. At that point, I felt I’d had enough. I was just about to say, exasperatedly, “That’s fine. I’ll take it like that,” when for some reason I didn’t. Suddenly it occurred to me that this woman thought it was important to make the present look just right and at that moment that seemed exactly what I should be letting her do. And just like that I was able to focus on what she was doing. I watched her hands pulling on the ribbon and it was like seeing something bewitching. I thought to myself, “If it takes another hour I am going to wait here until she’s done.” And I did. And how incredibly freeing that felt. It turns out that watching someone wrap a present for you at 4 in the afternoon is one of those things you really need to let happen at its own pace. And maybe just about everything else.
To me, one of the most beautiful phrases in the English language is “Take your time.” I take it seriously. And there are times when I feel completely rushed and I think about that woman carefully wrapping my present. And the next thing I know I feel like I have all the time in the world.
Six years ago, I left the city for the country and found that here you can really take your time. So that you might stroll over to the post office for some stamps and find yourself spending 20 minutes chatting with someone about how to heat old houses. It is so easy to rush through life. But now I realize that it’s more about how the box was wrapped then what is actually inside.
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