My youngest daughter has named this year as her year of travel. Other members of the family and some of my friends have also planned trips abroad. Places as far east as Hong Kong, Australia via Singapore, north to Iceland, north west from South Africa to Canada, to sunny Spain for some sunshine, an exciting adventure to San Francisco and a summer trek in Cambodia and Vietnam. The seasoned travellers have been able to give lots of advice for the new adventurers. Among these snippets of advice has been the warning of the effects of jet lag.
A little research revealed the following symptoms of jet lag. Fatigue, loss of sleep patterns, confusion and disorientation, physiological and psychological effects, caused by long haul flights passing through many time zones and changes in altitude. I could not help thinking that some of those symptoms are like the effects of living too much in life’s fast lane. The body clock is affected when jet lag takes its toll. Night blurs into day. Sleep is turned topsy-turvy and normal routines are lost until the travel stops and the body readjusts to the previous or a new situation.
The fast track tempts us at every turn of the road. The goal will be achieved more quickly. Longer hours, irregular meals, no time for days off, little socialising - unless it furthers the work projects, and sadly no time for friends, family or fun. Time management disappears until the road either peters out or the ‘vehicle’ develops some sort of fault. In other words, we either slow down of our own volition or we are forced to.
If we had read the signs the crash might never have happened. The traffic lights illustrate this perfectly. The green light tells us we can proceed. The amber light warns us to slow down and quickly changes to the red, bringing us to halt. Time to sort out the hazards which prevent the crashes. Only, and only, when the red and amber show can we get ready to proceed and then go merrily on our way again as the red and amber give way to green.
Life can all too easily rush past in a foggy blur where there is no clarity, colour, or contours. There is no fellowship and the art of conversation about the stuff of life becomes a thing of the past. We become dull and boring. Friendships dwindle and loneliness takes their place. Those friends and family find other pursuits and relationships to fill the gap that we have so unintentionally created.
The slow lane would do us good for a little while. It will give us time, the commodity of life that we have so unwittingly stifled. This new time that we have made will allow us to pull down and throw out what is irrelevant and create the opportunity to rebuild again. This time there will be different footings, a solid foundation, a substantial enterprise which incorporates all our interests across the full breadth of life. The fast lane will be there for the thrill of enjoyment and not a millstone around our necks and the slow lane provides that leisurely pace which gives opportunity to access, and plan effectively.