My eldest son asked an interesting question while we were driving home from my boys’ horse riding lesson yesterday evening. Out of the blue he asked, “Daddy, why when you see things in slow motion do you want to stop the bad things from happening even more?” Not quite sure what he meant, I asked him to clarify. He added: “Like when someone is about to be punched or someone says the wrong thing to another person, you want to reach out and stop that thing from hitting its target.”
What an excellent thought! I’ve never really considered it consciously, but I have had the exact same feeling on many occasions! When the clock is slowed down there is more time to consider the consequences of an action, to form an empathetic impression and to act to minimize the damages of an ill thought, word or deed.
Most regret, I suppose, is born in these precious milliseconds. The space between, the no-man’s land between stimulus and response is rarely considered when living life at full speed. That said, those who develop an awareness of this buffer zone develop a reputation for an uncommon vision, the ability to stop things from getting worse even after the proverbial red button was pushed.
Not to put too much on an eight year old, I would venture to say that my eldest is one such person. His younger brother remarked on it one evening when we were sharing with each other the qualities of character of friends and family for which we are most thankful. He said: “I am thankful for my brother because he can stop bad things from happening without using violence. He can say the right thing or make the right move and the bad thing doesn’t win.” I had to agree wholeheartedly based on my observations!
I hope that my sons continue to: (1) develop this capacity in themselves and (2) respect and draw forth this quality from others. Rather than stand in awe of evil at work in the world – especially when you see it unfolding in slow motion right before your eyes – take an active, positive stance and change the future!
By refining your ability to redirect the destructive forces at work in the world around you into constructive and generative outcomes you’ll realize that you can “stretch” time to your advantage. You cannot really change the march of time, but you can make better, fuller use of it.
You only have so many years, months, days and hours on this earth. Why not make the most of them!?!
5 thoughts on “A Matter of Time”
Thanks for sharing those precious observations. Obviously your boys are inquiring into the most vital essence of things, and your alertness as a father gives space for that inquiry to be fruitful and ongoing. I’m impressed!
There exists an application of mammoth proportions in relation to this principle in the field of medicine
Your son (and you) just wrote what should be considered by any manager or leader of any group of people or business – a great management philosophy! After all, given that the main function and responsibility of a manager is to ‘develop’ others (the so-called experts will tell you that it is getting things done, but that is best accomplished by being of value to and looking for the best in others), the most significant starting points are contained in his question and his brother’s observation about him.
What a constructive conversation to have, well, I was going to write with children, but actually with anyone! Learning how to think first before you speak or act is a valuable skill. The highest level of that skill is learning how to monitor what thoughts and impulses you’ll entertain in yourself. I think George Washington was creating a governor for himself for this very reason, when he wrote his rules for civility. This is not just an acquired taste but a deliberate one. Wonderful post!
I wholeheartedly agree that the ability to stay aligned with the positive is the single most effective strategy in living!