I’m compelled to write about the subject of TIME because of a couple of incidents that happened this week. It’s 4:46 AM in the morning and I’ve been awake since 2:50 this morning. My original plan is to continue writing my book and hopefully finish my manuscript ready for editing. I sit here typing away hoping that in the end I can somehow connect the subject of TIME with BONSAI. The obvious of making a bonsai look old is not the time I’m interested in here. This post is totally impromptu and unplanned but I think mostly to vent just a little but in the end my hope is to draw out a lessons here.
I should have a bumper sticker made that says “Leave EARLIER Don’t Kiss My ASS”. Pardon the language here but let me explain. This week alone, I’ve had a couple of incidents where these big trucks were right behind our vehicle about 4 feet away. The first one was my daughter was driving on the carpool lane and probably already going about 70 miles an hour while another car is already in front. All of a sudden, this pick-up truck, the kind with the large tires sticking out of the body and lifted, was right behind her, I would say almost 4 feet from her bumper. I calmly told her just to go to right when she can safely do it. She couldn’t move right away because there were other cars next to her but this truck was persistent and didn’t let up until she moved. Back in my younger days, I would have given the driver the number 1 sign with my middle finger but instead resorted to staying calm and accepting that some people are in hurry and you just need to get out of their way. My daughter and I are both aware of the “slower traffic move to the right” but if you are already going fast and someone is in front of you, what do you do? So that time we handled it calmly.
Yesterday, I should have paid attention to my time and left a little earlier to a design meeting. I decided to take a highway that is not my preferred route because it’s considered a dangerous highway with 170 accidents in 10 years with 6 fatalities. I’m referring to HWY 18, it peaks at Tiger Mountain and goes to a 2 way (one each direction) lane as you go down a steep valley and then opens up to on top to let slower vehicles go to the right. I was in hurry so I thought I was going as fast as I can safely drive. I got to the peak with no problem (it was early enough in the day that there was no traffic). Then all of a sudden I see this brand new red Dodge Ram seemed to come out of nowhere, tailing behind me. He must have been about 4 feet away at first. If it’s a two lane road, I would have let this guy pass me by no problem, right? But this is a one lane highway and there is another car in front of me which I kept at least 3 seconds distance away. This truck just tailed me for what seemed like a couple of minutes and I thought about pulling over to the side and just let him through. It was a nice idea but after thinking about it, that will not be safe. It got to a point that somehow that teenage driver side of me took the drivers seat and decided that as soon as the slower car in front of me get out of the way as the road opens up, I will just speed up so this guy behind me can go to his lunch meeting or where ever he was going. As soon as the road opened up, I sped up but then the truck behind me moved to the right thinking he was going to pass me. I realized what he was doing but instead of me slowing down to let him go, that teenage driver in me stepped on the gas and passed the slower car and other slow semi trucks on the right, not allowing him to pass in front of me. Don’t tell my wife this but I was driving her car, glad that thing had power. On the other side of the valley, the road narrows to one lane again. This time, my heart was pumping from the adrenaline rush of being a race car driver for a few seconds. The red Ram truck caught up and was right behind me. I can tell he was not happy as he openly showed me he was unclenching his tight grip from the stirring wheel undoing each finger in a wave. Small, ring, middle to index, index to small. I also did see he formed a fist but not directly pointing at me. I sat there calmly now as I listen to my Christmas music playing on Warm 106.9. The road eventually opens up again to a ramp going to the I 90 east ramp. That’s when this red truck had a chance to get next to me. I was going to ignore him but noticed that he was mouthing off something at me, it’s definitely not him asking to for bonsai lessons, he seemed pissed. Well I admit, I’m only human and again that teenage driver in me kicked in. I rolled down my window and shouted at him “YOU’RE STUPID”. Again the adrenaline kicked in and in my mind I was already doing all the martial arts move on this guy. Poked his eyes, kicked his nuts, and I already have him on the floor with a choke hold. Then, I remember what I was suppose to do that afternoon, I was suppose to meet with a potential client, wow her with my design, and sell a $66,000 landscape project. I thought, I can’t go in that meeting with this mindset, I had to calm myself down. I did my deep breathing at least three times and that definitely helped. I drove the rest of the way to my meeting calmly. I was only 3 minutes late so I didn’t bother calling her which I typically do, but want to reduce my distraction from my driving. The meeting went very well and from the feel of it, it’s looking promising.
Although, I got through the day safely, that racing incident somewhat bothered me for the rest of the day. It bothered me for a three reasons: 1) I’ve tried to not engage in a road rage incident like that as much as possible but I felt I’ve lowered my standards by engaging with this person 2) There are a small percentage of people in this world that will always be “ASSHOLES” for the lack of better word. 3) Why are people always in a hurry and seems to have less TIME. The illusion of time is what I will try to discuss in this post. I know it’s a long post and if you don’t have time to read this, probably have other priorities.
Here’s one fact that I know, there’s 24 hours in a day, all of us live with this. You and I neither have more or less time. We all have the same 24 hours. The big disparity among us is how you decide to use that 24 hours and how you manage it or prioritize it. I’m not an expert on this but writing from experience and things that I’ve read. Multi-tasking is a MYTH. You cannot mindfully and effectively do several active task at one time. Right now I’m just writing with no music on. When I do my landscape design work, I turn on my favorite Pandora channel and I just flow. I’m familiar with the music and once in a while I try to name the artist in my head or the song. When I do that, I have to stop for a second to thing about it. I don’t think about the lyrics verbatim its just there as a background. But if I tried to drawing and talk on the phone at the same time, it does not work very well. In many ways the art of bonsai taught me this mindfulness of a single task. When I wire a branch, I can’t be thinking of pruning a branch on the other side of the tree. I do one task at a time. What does time have to do with this? Everything! We think we can expand time by doing several things at one time but in reality, time stays the same, you are only doing several things partially, and not effectively for that matter. In the end, if you are doing all those task by yourself and not delegating it, you will spend the same amount of time if not more when you have to redo something you’ve done by mistake because you were not paying attention.
Going back to the truck drivers that wants to go fast, I want to refer them to Eisntein’s Theory of Relativity
There are 2 theories that stand out from this, 1) The faster you move the slower time appears to become 2) The faster you move the more it feels there are more mass.
This is my layman’s interpretation of the theories above.
Theory 1) To feel that time goes faster, you slow down. This is a little stretch on this theory but have you done this? You are going a hundred miles per house, all of a sudden you forgot where you put your keys. You run around frantic looking your keys. Then you give up and slow down, you sit on a couch then “bing” you remember, you left it still hanging on your door. You slow down you speed up the process of finding what you lost. If that truck driver was late for something and have to get there in a hurry now because he didn’t slow down in the first place to plan whatever event he was going to. Take the time to plan your life, once in a while, you need to stop and figure out what you are doing. By doing this, next time you don’t feel rushed. I know, my brothers I wrote about from my post “Bonsai Misunderstood” are probably on floor laughing about this by now if they took the time to read it. I seemed to show up late at family parties. Well I was told (by my wife) “beauty takes time”. I knew I married a smart woman. She is so very right, especially when we are talking about bonsai. There is no way you can speed up the natural process, you must allow bonsai to be healthy first to become beautiful. Bonsai is a great teacher of this theory, if you slow down enough to understand the tree’s needs you can plan properly and speed up the process of their beauty. The great serendipity of slowing down, is you relieve your body and mind from the stress.
Theory 2) To feel like you’re carrying less mass shouldn’t you slow down? For a big truck to go fast that seems counter productive. The truck will feel even more massive. Mass does not necessarily equal weight but when a massive object is flying down the freeway, it must be catching a lot of air and not very aerodynamic. Therefore will be slower and become less massive again. Definitely not channeling Einstein at the moment but if you think of it, speed is more mass, more mass, more resistance, more resistance, more stress. That’s why that truck driver was mad at me because he was stressed. It was not me that was the real problem, he just need to get his “shit” together. It does take time to get your shit together but in the end, you’re life will be less stressful. In bonsai “shit” is manure, manure or fertilizer. One of my early bonsai mistakes was not fertilizing my tree (the one and first bonsai gift I got). Consequently, that tree died from starvation or stress. If you don’t have your “manure” together in bonsai you will not have beautiful trees. All that takes time, so plan, refer to Theory 1.
Are you guys still with me?
There are 3 time illusions we can draw lessons from:
- Multi-Tasking does not give you more time. Just be mindful of the task in front of you and doing it very well. You will save the time of redoing something later. In the end you will spend less time doing one thing when done efficiently and well.
- Speeding up (Life) does not give you more time. Slow down to give you more time. Take time to plan so it does not feel like you are always in a rush. By planning ahead, time will expand your future time.
- Speeding (Life) will give you a massive shit. I know this is a stinky metaphor but when you’re in the fast lane, the shit comes in the form of stress. Not only stress but you will miss life. You will not have time to smell the roses as they say. In my case, appreciate bonsai. Bonsai is life, therefore I take TIME to appreciate LIFE.