Last night I had a dream that I was with my family at a water park. As I launched myself down an enclosed water slide, I became stuck, my stomach fat puffed up around my neck like an Elizabethan collar. The water rushing down the chute pooled around my face. I could feel myself drowning. Yet all I could hear from the top of the slide were kids yelling, “Hurry Up! Hurry! Come on, already!”

Hurry seems to be how we operate, all day,every day. Last week, the incident that prompted me to give up my car was my overwhelming rage at a guy in a huge truck roaring up behind me, then around me, to speed onto the freeway as I (and several other cars) patiently waited our turn to merge.

Last night my sister was leaving our house with her daughter when she called out, “Hurry, Holland, hurry! We’ve got to go right now.” Her five-year old ran out my front door in a panic and promptly stepped straight down onto a mouse, squashing it to death on my welcome mat.

Then today I received an email from my son’s middle school that read, “Hurry, last chance to buy yearbooks!” (In April, no less.)

Hurrying really can be hazardous.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time walking with young children. Here I find it almost impossible to hurry. Children wander anywhere but down the sidewalk. They stop and whine. They trip and fall. Then they cry and whine some more, only to dash off into the dirt or bushes yet again.

Today on the walk home from school Juliet was turning somersaults in someone’s side lawn when she said to me, “Do you know about schema?”

“No,” I admitted, wishing she’d get up. 

“It’s what you already know. In your brain. We’re learning about that in school,”  Juliet told me, leaping up from the grass.

“Wow!” I said.

And wow is what I thought. Everyone complains about public schools, but I can’t for the life of me remember learning about schema in grade school, nor high school, not even college! And the whole time she was talking, I was barely listening because I was so inwardly stressed over how slow we were proceeding. How unhurried we were.

The word schema is defined as an underlying organizational pattern or structure. I believe this schema – this constant, subconscious message to hurry – is the new, underlying operating mode in all our brains. And I am going to disable it, one way or another.

Even if it means doing somersaults all the way home.

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