Monday, 9 May 2011

Thoughtfulness

I was standing in line in a café on Saturday afternoon when I saw a sign hanging above the counter: “Drink Coffee – Do Stupid Things Faster with More Energy”.  It made me laugh and brightened an already sunny afternoon.

It made me stop and think, though, about the number of things we do without thinking; and how infrequently we do things slowly and thoughtfully.  Getting through a lot of stuff makes us feel good, but doesn’t necessarily move things forward.  Whereas doing a well-chosen thing a little more slowly and thoroughly is likely to produce a better result.

Of course so much depends on what work needs to be done, and what your objectives are.  Despite my long battles with reducing caffeine, this isn’t a rant against coffee; I personally don’t drink the stuff, though, as I’m quite capable of doing stupid things without any chemical additives.

What really got me thinking was a visit to a local National Trust property some weeks previously.  It was a house I had seen on a number of occasions because it is so close to where I live.  This time, however, I visited with someone who isn’t quite as mobile as he was in his younger days.  So the visit was longer than normal, and we saw only half the house.  Did this spoil the day?  Au contraire!  It was twice as interesting as I had chance to look and think about what I was looking at.  I got more out of that visit than I had done in all the previous visits put together.  Yet given the choice, I would have bashed on at my normal speed.  Clearly, I had been missing so much.  And there is still more to go back and see.

There seems to be so little space for thought in our busy coffee-fuelled lives.  Yet slowing down and thinking always produces a better result.  The old saying: “there’s not enough time to do it well, but there’s always time to do it twice” sort of comes to mind.  Another coffee anyone?       

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