Hasten slowly

I spent time in my garden on the weekend. I’m creating a new pathway beside my house—a project that requires heavy lifting and dogged perseverance on my part. The work reminded me of a post I wrote in September 2011: Hasten slowly. I decided to share it with you again, because I like the sentiment so much.


hasten-slowly“Hasten slowly and you will soon reach your destination.”   —Milarepa

I came upon that quote in Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance by Julia Cameron. When we busy ourselves doing something that we really believe in but rewards are slow coming, it is easy to get discouraged. Whether it is raising money for a good cause, writing a book, or facing another day with a troublesome co-worker,  sometimes we just need a little push to carry on.

But, how can we hasten . .  . slowly? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

And yet, it seems we do. When I think about it, every valuable part of my life has come to me out of hastening slowly.

    • A university degree: scribbling notes and typing assignments during caffeine-driven all-nighters—for four years
    • A thriving marriage: career juggling, whirlwind vacations, chasing around after toddlers, paying down the mortgage—for 22 years
    • Children: pacing the floor during sleepless nights, car pooling to hockey games, gritting teeth at parent-teacher interviews, wanting everything to be perfect for them—for, well, forever
    • Published writing: handwriting first drafts, transcribing messy second drafts, editing, reading aloud, pacing, getting up in the middle of the night to change a word—for days, weeks, years

No matter what the destination, to get there, we need to hasten, and then wait.

To create the perfect garden, we hasten to plant the seeds, remove the weeds, water the seedlings, and slowly a beautiful garden appears. To learn to play “Moonlight Sonata,” we hasten to the piano bench and play, practise, play, and slowly the music smooths out to a beautiful melody. When we learn to speak a language, we hasten to recite the verbs, converse with friends, practise the accent, and slowly we come to think, live, dream in the language.

And if we stop typing, juggling, paying, pacing, gritting, planting, weeding, watering, playing, practising, reciting, conversing—if we stop hastening—then we never reach the destination.

Whatever your destination, hasten to it, and slowly you will arrive.

6 thoughts on “Hasten slowly

  1. Chris

    Wonderful. Reminds of an expression I heard a lot in Mennonite country – The hurrier I go, the behinder I get. Turns out that was Lewis Carroll, though the Mennonites are famous for philosophical phrases. I was buying lumber from wise souls near Waterloo one time. Another customer wanted a 16′ 2×6 “without any knots’. Which solicited the response “Oh, you want it from a tree without any branches.”


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