Moving Forward

Every morning when I slip into the pool to exercise, I do a lap (back and forth the length of the pool) to get my mind into a stillness so I can exercise without having my mind run ahead into the day.

One of my exercises is to run, lifting my knees very high and pumping my arms. Since I’m in water over my head, I do not race ahead. I move sluggishly, surrounded by water that holds me in place. Resists my progress, while it’s building up muscles.

1445800And as I ran, it occurred to me that frantic running–in or out of the water–doesn’t achieve anything except exercise. Frantic running is not productive. It doesn’t get work done faster, or with more accuracy. We’ve all raced around only to make the situation worse instead of better. And wasted time on top of everything else.

When I sit on airplanes, I see people who are frantically busy. They stay on their phones till the flight attendants ask them to shut them off–for the second time. They pull out their laptops and work the entire flight. As soon as the flight touches down, they are back on the phone. I asked the man next to me how much he had accomplished. “Not enough,” he said, “and I’m late.” He ran off, pushing down the aisle.

In the running of the bulls, people run, bulls run, and then the bulls are killed in the afternoon.© Washington Post

In the running of the bulls, people run, bulls run, and then the bulls are killed in the afternoon.© Washington Post

I saw him again a few minutes later, mopping up his suit with a coffee stain on it. He was furious. As he grabbed more napkins, he knocked over a ketchup container. It just got worse.

Moving forward is a deliberate act. It combines planning and thinking and often, not doing anything at all. And as I run in the pool in the morning, struggling to make headway, I know that when I get out of the pool, my actions need to be far more deliberate. Sometimes, when I get out, I deliberately move very slowly, feeling each exercised muscle do its work. And it feels like I’ve accomplished something.
–Quinn McDonald is moving ahead. Sometimes faster than others.

8 thoughts on “Moving Forward

  1. Excellent blog post! This used to be me all the time and, fortunately, is me only occasionally these days. I still get caught up in the frantic pace even though I know that it will get me nowhere but I have gotten much better at recognizing when to slow down. Part of that is planning better thus allowing me to stay calm. When I can’t plan my time or when my life gets disorganized (like now and you know why), then I start running around with my hair on fire. I just need to find someone to follow me with a fire extinguisher, LOL.

    I had a frantic day a few days ago, one of those days where you keep running into things that stop you in your tracks…backed up traffic, closed streets, stores being out of what I need, prescription mess up, restaurant closed, and finally standing in line to check out and the people in front of me wanted everything re-rung on different tickets. They apologized and I said, “It’s quite all right. This has been a crazy day for me and I am going to stand here and relax.” We all had a nice conversation and I walked out of the store with a little spring in my step. It was really refreshing to let go and just deal with whatever came my way, unfortunately, it took me most of the day to figure it out.

  2. I teach water fitness……not the he man style, but for folks like you and me. Water walking is one of the best exercises that you can do in the pool, along with spurts of water running. You move your hands like you would be swimming and you are using your legs slow and deliberate or in a running fashion. What most people don’t know is that if you were to do a combo of that in the water for a half hour… equals a 2 hour walk on land and does not have the same pounding on the hard surface that occurs when on land. You can pick a nice rhythm and it becomes meditative and can set the tone for the day……Doing a few jumping jacks gives the rest of your body a spurt of energy as well as getting the mind in gear for change. A great way to start the day!

  3. My metaphor for much the same thing is “In a hurry going nowhere” – and I apply it to drivers who speed around others, going through red lights, not slowing down – and for what? Those few seconds saved give you nothing. Same thing with working frantically and getting nothing done at all. Excellent blog post!

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