I remember when I got my first mountain bike. It was a thrilling rite-of-passage out of the little kid world of fixed-gear, BMX bikes. Not only was it bigger, which made it seem more mature, but it had all those gears and wires and whatnot. It was complex machinery, specifically designed to fill a young boy’s mind with adventurous possibility.
It didn’t take long to realize that all those gears made something that used to be quite simple, suddenly very complicated. Whereas before, riding a bike was simply a matter of how fast to pedal and where to point your front wheel, now there were decisions to be made. Decisions like, which combination of gears were best for what situation.
After a lot of trial and error, I eventually discovered something that seemed pretty counter-intuitive at the time, the bigger gears move slower but make you go faster.
The typical pace of life in our culture tends to resemble riding in the little gears, where you’re pedaling as fast as you can but never seem to gain much momentum. We move quickly through our days, responding, and reacting. Rarely taking the time to look at the big picture and determine whether or not those responses or reactions are the best ones, or even necessary at all. But our pedals are moving fast, so we must be doing something right…right?
Somewhere we adopted the cultural maxim that busy-ness must equal productivity. But, when I look at the lives of the people I respect most, they rarely look franticly busy. They actually seem calmer and more focused. It’s like they figured out how to switch their life into the bigger gear, where they’re pedaling slower but with far more power.
We’ve all been given an opportunity in midst of this unprecedented season. Our lifestyles and habits have been forced out of their typical grooves. Our auto-pilot functions no longer serve us well. It’s like our bike chain got kicked out of gear. So, now we each have a choice. Will we fall back into the small gears, expending tons of energy and pushing ourselves to the very edges of our capacity, only to look back and find we haven’t traveled that far? Or, will we downshift?
Choosing to intentionally slow down our pace.
Find more moments for joy and rest.
Approach our work more thoughtfully. Focusing our time and energy on the most important things rather than the most urgent.
You’ll burn yourself out pedaling in the small gears. The big gears are where the power comes from.
Don’t make busy your goal. Instead, choose meaningful.