Turbulence, speed bumps, and life

I was watching an inspirational broadcast on TV today and the speaker was talking about air turbulence. He said when flying through air turbulence that the there is a  speed, the turbulence speed, that is optimal for flying through the turbulence. He also mentioned that in most cases a plane needs to slow down to be at turbulence speed. He then likened flying through turbulence with each of our lives. We are all extremely busy, with far more to do than we have time to do it. When challenges hit, difficulties arise, or life overwhelms, we need to slow down and get back to doing the basics in life. We need to get back to doing the things that are most important; this is living life at turbulence speed.
Well, as I thought about this some more, I realized that turbulence speed is not maximum speed, but it is also far from minimum speed. So, when challenges hit, difficulties arise, or life overwhelms, I might need to slow down but I also cannot stop. I might need to rest for a bit, but I must get moving again. This principle reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

I’m a little wounded, but I am not slain;
I will lay me down for to bleed a while,
Then I’ll rise and fight with you again.
– John Dryden

So, I am taking two lessons from today:

  • Don’t try to go to fast- sometimes I need to slow down
  • Don’t go to slowly – sometimes I drag your feet

This is good for me because I have a tendency to go to the extremes – what they call the boundary conditions in mathematics. I push too hard. I figure if something is good, more is even better. If the physical therapist tells me to do three sets of an exercise each day, I figure doing the three sets twice or three times a day will be even better. If taking a vitamin is good, taking two is even better. So, yes, I carry things to extremes sometimes (I say sometimes because I don’t always do it). What happens when I do this with work, activities in my life, or relationships is that I burn out. And if I burn out, it is like a broken car on a long trip – I make no progress at all. I need to try to go at a sustainable pace – the turbulence speed for me.

On the flip side of the coin, there are things in life that I do not move on at all, and I should. I need to exercise more, take better care of my teeth, and take care of the whole list of things on my To Do list that I do not want to do. So, there is no movement or very little movement. This is not good. Sometime,s I actually get moving on these things, like exercise, but then I take to the extreme, burn out, and then I am back where I started – doing nothing.

So the problem is very clear, how do I find that middle ground in life, that turbulence speed at which to proceed? How do I do but not do too much or go but not go too fast? Maybe it is the story of the tortoise and hare that has the answers for me. In the story, a tortoise and  a hare have a race. The hare can run faster, but he stops to rest or do other things. The tortoise just keeps going at a steady but slow pace. In the end, the tortoise beats the hare because the tortoise kept going and never stopped. I use this principle in backpacking and hiking. I try to always keep going. Even some of my rests are just walking slowly instead of stopping. When I need to gt a drink, I get to my water bottle and drink while still walking. What I need to do is apply this to life. I need to figure out how to pace myself.

Life is complicated and continually changing. There are always challenges, call them turbulence. So, turbulence speed is the speed that gets you through the turbulence of life. It is that balance between extremes, that place somewhere in the middle that I need to find.

I need to start by moving slowly, and then try to move a little faster, and then a little faster. If  I find I am going to fast, I need to slow down for awhile, maybe I need to slow down some more. Eventually, I can try to go faster again, and then faster again. Because life is always changing and I am changing, the speed adjustment must be ongoing. This all sounds pretty simple, so why haven’t I succeeded or been more successful? I think the trick is going back to the tortoise – the work and the adjustments must be ongoing. I need to continually be moving and finding that speed at which I can go. I need to resist being the hare – sprinting or doing nothing, and then trying to do the opposite. This leads to discouragement and failure. This is it. I will be a tortoise.

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