Speed of Life

Story by Martha Carucci “Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction.” - Mahatma Gandhi Stop for a second. Ask yourself this question: What speed are you operating at right now? Are you the kind of person who goes full speed 24/7? Or has it now somehow become 25/8? Do you take time to stop, breathe, and literally smell the roses? Many people have said that COVID forced them to slow down; to sit, spend time with family, stay in, and do things they might not otherwise do. But as things start reverting to normal with the world opening up again and gradually removing restrictions, some go right back to their old pace. Others find that their slower pace was something they wanted to carry on, and that those roses actually do smell great. To me, it often feels like the world pushes us to operate in overdrive instead of teaching us and reinforcing that life might pass us by if we move too fast to enjoy it. We are surrounded by advertising and messages that show us that if we take a certain medication, we will be running in slow motion with giant smiles on our faces, holding hands with our children in fields of flowers; if we drink a certain beer, which is perfectly chilled with beaded drops of cool water dripping down the bottle, we will have more fun on boat rides jumping off docks with beautiful looking friends, seemingly without a care in the world. We are pushed to have more; bigger, better, or faster; houses, cars, boats, motorcycles, or second homes; better bodies, stronger bodies, or thinner bodies. And it's not just about having more, but also doing more; to hold multiple volunteer positions, to out-do the other parents at the school bake sale, to be the coach or team parent of your kid’s sports team, to start a book club, to entertain more often. We are to wear our exhaustion as a badge of honor or a bragging right. This applies not just to adults, but to kids too. If your kid isn’t fluent in mandarin, an expert fencer, classical cellist, and captain of several teams by age nine, some parents may feel a sense of failure. Do we have to line up a food truck that serves Sri Lankan cuisine and hire a mariachi band to celebrate when our kid successfully gets a pencil to stand up in Play-Doh? Thanks to our smartphones and laptops giving us unfettered access to Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, Pinterest, and the next big thing, we can compare ourselves to others and be made to feel inferior any time, day or night. That is, if you have any free time to slow down. But what if less is more? What if that night that we laughed until our stomachs hurt playing board games when we stayed in with our family was more? What about the benefits of meditation and deep breathing? What about taking time for ourselves and s-l-o-w-i-n-g down? We asked a few Alexandria residents to take a minute to look at their “speed of life” and share their thoughts with us.

Kelly DeMaso -- President/Owner of Simplified Organizing & Staging (SOS) in Alexandria. Q: What is your speed of life? “I am a very high-energy person. I don’t know slow speed. I give 110% and I have no one else to blame when things don’t get done. It’s what I expect of myself so sometimes I work harder and faster than necessary. I never want to overpromise and underdeliver. But when I crash, I crash hard.” Q: Has COVID slowed you down at all? “During COVID, I had to learn how to adapt to my family’s 'new normal,' which was much slower. I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘borrowed time’ with my college-aged girls. I learned time with them is more important than work.” Jenny Close and Melissa Lyons -- Consultants

Q: What is your speed of life? Jenny and Melissa: “Warp speed. Always.” Q: Did COVID slow you down? Jenny: “Offices shut down from COVID and then I had a baby. I take time for walks in nature and fitness.” Melissa: “COVID made the world smaller, which is a good thing. I had less travel for work, but I also was homeschooling. I have a massage once a month and focused on my fitness again.” It might be worthwhile to look at your speed of life.