When I was making myself pasta after school today, I found myself complaining about how long water takes to boil. “It takes a solid ten minutes for the water alone, and then you have to cook the pasta for another eight minutes after that!” I groaned to my mother, staring grumpily at the clock. As I sat there waiting for the water and lamenting the lack of Star Trek replicator technology in my kitchen, I started to wonder: what’s the rush?
Technology has warped the fabric of society—we now expect and require instant gratification. The need for speed started with communication, eventually spreading to every aspect of modern life. Food, from cream puffs to chicken cordon bleu, comes frozen and ready in ten minutes; you can buy makeup in a three-in-one color palette where a single swipe creates a smoky eye; the Internet is available anywhere on a smart phone, because posting those pictures simply can’t wait until later. The ten-minute workout, the breakfast shake, the protein bar: even healthcare must be lightning-fast. We live in a turbo-charged world, and it almost seems like we’re all rushing simply because we can.
The fact of the matter is, some of the best things in the world take time. You can live your whole life without experiencing it if you don’t stop every once in a while and appreciate your existence. Baking an apple pie from scratch, that takes time. You can complain and take the premade crust shortcut, or you can set aside a Sunday morning and enjoy the feeling of creating something delicious. Creating art, that takes time. You can try a sketch and throw down your pencil in frustration, or you can spend a while learning the basics and improving your technique over the years. Reading a book takes time. So does making a friend. Falling in love. Getting in shape. Learning a sport. Building a tree house. Even little things, like making a fresh pot of coffee, writing a letter, taking a walk. The world is full of shortcuts, but these things don’t happen right if you try to rush through them.
We are obsessed with results, and we are obsessed with having them as quickly as possible. No longer are people interested in the process, in the journey, in the why or the how. It’s sad, because these things are the beautiful part. Have you ever seen a time lapse of a flower in bloom? Sure, flowers are lovely, but the way they unfurl in the morning dew is breathtaking. And if you stick your head outside just before a summer storm, you can feel power hanging in the air. An author’s first draft is always about himself more than his characters, and the painstaking concentration on an artist’s face is often more telling than the finished painting. I like real, tangible books because when you put a long one down, you can feel the weight of the time you’ve spent in your palm. If you close your eyes and focus, you’ll begin to notice how hard your body is working just to keep you alive. I think that’s beautiful.
And maybe the process is a little messy, or confusing, or not as pretty as you’d like. But no one is born ready, and Rome wasn’t built in a day. Often, the destination is the journey. We certainly learn more there than by admiring a finished product. So take a moment today to appreciate growth, praise sweat, and celebrate half-finished projects. Take those two extra minutes. Step out of your schedule. The universe won’t crash around your ears, I promise.