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Hurry Up Slowly

By Jim Gustafson

"Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry." --John Wesley

Not too long ago, before there was email and spam, it was common to set correspondence aside for a day or so before mailing. This was especially true when the topic was emotionally charged. We understood that once mailed, words on a page live forever. The other day, I received an email which touched a not too positive emotional nerve. I hit the "Reply" button, wrote my retort, and hit send. A few minutes later, I attempted to recall the email. I could not. My knee-jerk response was winging its way through cyberspace. I knew that when it was opened only the "jerk" in "knee-jerk" would be obvious.

We place a premium on swift action. Being fast, if not first, is most highly valued in travel, sports, and business. Delays are not well tolerated. To be slow and thoughtful can be regarded as dilly-dallying.

A friend of mine is impetuous. She is a dolphin moving quickly. She makes snap decisions, and is often right. In the wake of her activity, lie the frustration, confusion, and chaos of those around her. She often gets where she is going. She usually gets there ahead of others. She is often alone.

I have another friend who is an anchor. He procrastinates. In the name of thinking things through, he seldom gets through anything. He creates no wake, for there is seldom movement. He leaves no one behind, for he has rarely left. I have often thought it would be interesting to have them co-chair a committee. It would be fun to watch the feathers fly.

Aldus Manutius was an Italian renaissance writer and printer. He is credited with inventing italics and setting the pattern for publishing as we know it today. His personal motto, Festina Lente - "Hurry up slowly" - remains sage counsel. He captured the motto with an anchor intertwined by dolphins. The rushing dolphins and rugged anchor send a paradoxical truth. True and good progress flows from the gap between impetuousness and procrastination. We are at our best when we make haste and yet don't hurry.

Isn't today the perfect day for festina lente?

Jim Gustafson was ordained in the United Methodist Church. He has been a pastor, counselor, conference leader and motivational speaker. His book, "Take Fun Seriously," is published by Limitless Press.

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