The speed limit is 75, so I figure 85 is probably okay. I’m zipping along in my white Nissan Altima that I picked out by default at the airport, because the cuter grey VW had a broken headlight. The highway seems endless through the desert between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, brown for miles in every direction, with brown mountains in the distance to break up the view somewhat.
I look up ahead at what I can just barely discern is a man standing at the top of a hill on the side of the road. He’s pointing a gun at the cars as they speed by. It’s a radar gun, and it immediately makes me think of the scene in Bridesmaids where Rhodes shows Annie how to use one and they chase after speeding cars. I didn’t think they existed outside the movies; I’d never seen one before. The trooper is dressed in brown, almost hidden in his brown surroundings.
Before I reach him, the cop jumps into his car and turns on the light. I know he got me. I don’t even know what speed I was going, but I know I didn’t see him early enough. I brake, I move to the right lane. I don’t even pray because I know he got me. What use is prayer now? I haven’t been pulled over since the night after my high school graduation, and the fear surges back at me, as palpable now as it was then.
I watch him in my rearview mirror, this cop who is coming to get me. I hold my breath, heart stopping for a moment, when the miraculous happens: he pulls over the car behind me. The car that was going more slowly than I was. A grey VW that I could have been driving, should have been driving, but wasn’t. IT’S NOT ME.
It takes ten minutes for my heart to stop racing, for my breathing to return to normal. For the moment, it changes me, causes me to reflect, and I think back to a conversation I had with a friend about my lack of patience last week, something that seems to be evident out here on I-25 North.
I am always in a hurry.
“F*ck patience” I told her. I’m always in a hurry. Even when I’m not, I still am. Always rushing, always pushing forward, always needing to get there faster. Maybe in part due to my leaving things to the last minute, maybe because I am so worried about being late, maybe because my Type-A personality just seems to demand a more frenzied pace. But it remains that I’m always in a hurry.
“Okay, F*ck patience”, she agrees. “But what are you in a hurry for? You don’t even know…”
The question has sat with me, uncomfortably, for a week. Why am I always in such a hurry? Why is it so important for me to hit milestones faster, to firm up my calendar months in advance, nail a yoga pose, or establish the boundaries of a relationship?
Seeing the questions written out, and actually giving myself honest answers all boils down to one thing: TRUST.
If this site doesn’t want me to write for them now, they never will.
If more people don’t sign up to follow my blog soon, it’s doomed to mediocrity.
If I don’t confirm plans with you now, you’ll do something else instead.
If I can’t jump up into a handstand now, I’ll always be a failure in yoga.
If I don’t solidify this relationship now, you’ll leave.
I don’t trust that you will stay.
I don’t trust that things will just be. I don’t feel that things will just work themselves out the way they are supposed to. I don’t have faith in a future that is unplanned. I need to MAKE things happen and I need to do it NOW.
Of course, that’s obviously not how it works, so I am, for all of my careful planning and hustling about, setting myself up for failure. My need for immediate success has caused me to give up on things I cared about, because the metrics I deemed “successful” didn’t arrive soon enough. My packed schedule often has holes in it, holes from where life happened and things didn’t go as planned. My pushing in relationships has done exactly that—it has pushed people away.
But how scary is it to actually let go?
I took a ski lesson this weekend in New Mexico, and my lovely ski instructor, Shelley, watched me ski just a short distance before assessing me.
“You are jamming your turns, forcing the skis to turn jarringly, instead of allowing your skis to point forward and just take you there smoothly. You need to let go, stop thinking about it so much, and trust that your body will take over.”
Look at that, a skiing metaphor for life. I push, I force, I jam. I overthink. It’s exhausting on the ski slope, and it’s exhausting in my life. It’s certainly not serving me well in either place. It’s a clear indicator of the need for change.
I wish I could say that it all just clicked for me right there on the bunny slope in Santa Fe, but it wasn’t quite that simple. I still jammed into my turns when I felt my speed build too much. I still forced myself to turn when I felt I was losing control. I still thought too much about my body position, and my direction, and what was coming next. It was an orchestrated chaos of starts and stops.
But, for a few blissful seconds at a time, I was able to do what Shelley had challenged.
I was able to point my skis downhill, count to three, and just let go.