Being Productive Without Being in a Hurry

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I Waive Your Wave

Twenty years ago, while working for a children’s dentist, I carefully mixed cement for a temporary crown on a baby tooth.  My boss – the dentist – waved his free hand frantically, in an effort to get me to hurry.   Many things would cause my dentist to want me to hurry:  behavioral problems or fatigue with the child patient, excessive saliva, a cramping jaw, but mostly his own impatience – a very human trait.  But here’s the thing, you can’t hurry up how you mix dental cement.  It has to be mixed precisely and timely.  It just was what it was.  I knew this was the case, as did my boss – a children’s dentist of 35 years.  But nevertheless, he still would wave the hurry hand at me.   Which I promptly chose to waive.

Losing Myself in Island Time

Two years ago, I took the longest vacation I have ever taken.  I unplugged – almost completely – in the Cook Islands.  The Islanders – those native to the islands – were never in a hurry.  As a matter of fact, if you – as a visitor to the islands – displayed any kind of frustration with their lack of focus and attention to time, they would purposefully slow down.  I soon learned to keep “island time.”  And in that effort, I learned to find moments where sanity could settle in –  where I could sit back and actually mainline sanity into my life.

Spending an hour or two daily riding around the island, we soon learned to say, “We’re on vacation, for Pete’s sake, we are not in a hurry.”  The people of Rarotonga have perfected the waive of the hurry hand.  It is non-existent.  As I became more familiar with my surroundings and learned more about the land I was visiting, I could see almost imperceptible value in their simple but joyful way of life.  There were no traffic jams, not because there were not cars, but because slow and simple is the way.  There were no alarm clocks, because the sun is what wakes you – that, and stray roosters.  There were no late night television talk shows, because when it is dark, that is when you sleep.

Two weeks ago, I sat on a chair on a beach on a deck in the Bahamas and had to re-learn what I had learned two years ago.  Sanity comes in all forms.  Sometimes, it is in the form of work that fulfills or family that loves.  It is good to remind yourself how it feels to find that peace – that sanity.

Putting Away the “Hurry Hand”

Learning to be more productive, more fruitful when I need to be – when the sun is shining – doesn’t mean I have to be in a hurry or wave the hurry hand at those with whom I work or live.  The hurry hand represents frustration and a dismissal of value, real value.  The only hand I waved while on vacation was to passing motorists – island visitors – unhappy with our unhurried scooter speed, “Please, feel free to pass us…”

Finding the Quiet

Mainlining Sanity should not be an unattainable dream or a two-weeks a year quest (vacation).  It should be embedded into our psyche and allowed to freely spill over into our lives.  We are not automatons or robots.  We are people, flesh and blood.  Nutrition must coincide with rest in order to preserve our bodies.  It is not a wish, it is a must.   A must I now gladly recognize and welcome as I say, “I’m home.”


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