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the pace of 21st century life

May 7, 2010

It’s raining again outside and I’ve come to value the sound of its regular patter on my tin roof. The reason I can enjoy its sound now is because lately I’ve slowed down enough to hear it. Previously I might have known it was there, seen it, been aware of it, but its presence may have been noted more with annoyance… it would have slowed my travel, delayed my flight or possibly kept people away from meetings I was running or events I staged. It would have been something to overcome and conquer instead of just being what it is…. rain.

Much of life, particularly in a high pressure career, is geared towards the negotiation of problems and the meeting of deadlines. The more pressured our lives become, the more adept we become at trying to control our environment to minimise disruption to whatever it is we deem to be of high importance. Whether those things we value so highly really are that meaningful is yet to be seen and whether the push through at all costs mentality many of us end up carrying is a healthy way to live is up for question.

Until very recently I placed a high value on such things. My particular position carried with it a very grueling travel schedule. I was on a plane going somewhere on average every 2.6 days clocking up hundreds of thousands of flight miles every year as I lived between two major cities in separate countries each week. My work spanned four continents with thousands of contacts globally. I loved my job… it was a calling, not a position, and I count myself fortunate to have been able to do what I did for the past 20 years or so.

I became an expert in handling tight schedules and deadlines. I had travel down to the finest of arts, calculating to the second how to negotiate an airport so as to minimise time in queues and lines. I could spot the slow line at check-in from a distance and prided myself for living in the hand luggage only world of time saving. I became so good at timing my airport runs that in my old home town airport, Amsterdam Schiphol, I could catch the 2:10 train if my flight from London arrived at the gate by no later than 2:04. I could then be at my desk a quarter of an hour later for my weekly Tuesday afternoon meeting. I was the ultimate time manager relying on my own skill and the systems of transport I frequented to ferry me around as many as three countries in a single day to speak at meetings, deliver a message or meet and greet those needing my attention.

Yet the sad thing is that the more I got done and the more time I saved the more time poor I felt. Beware those who would get in my way! A world where ever second counts becomes a world of short tempers. My intolerance for those who couldn’t match my speed became increasingly overwhelming. The guy who didn’t have his laptop out before he arrived at the x-ray security machine, or the person whose passport was still in the bag at border control… these were the enemy, to be hated for their tardy actions that slowed my relentless passage through life. As little as a five second delay could mean missing the train, leaving me waiting an extra 20 minutes on the platform, quietly fuming at the unnecessary delay. And all for what? Did my efforts actually change that much? Was I saving lives or influencing the face of history? Probably not, however, my own sense of self-importance drove me on… another country, another opportunity, all the while my own sense of who I was becoming lost in the blur of what life had become.

So I value the sound of the rain now. It reminds me of what is, and of what should be. My pace has slowed and my expectations adjusted to a more sustainable realistic pace of life. Just this week I had an experience that shows me how far I’ve come in anchoring myself again. I had a business meeting with Joe to discuss a client I wanted him to meet. Joe and I had probably 5 minutes of real business to discuss, but as I met him late on Wednesday afternoon we struck up a conversation. He made a cup of tea, offered a biscuit and we got to chatting. We talked about ourselves, our children, jobs we’d had and the places we’d seen. We’d agreed the deal within a few minutes and yet lingered in dialogue discovering things about each other. I stayed with Joe for almost 45 minutes, a thing my previous time poor self may have never done. I came away feeling like I’d done some real work, a connection was made and a pace set that I’d be able to keep up with this time.

I never again want to feel that pressure of the clock. I’ve settled into a pace of life I enjoy with time to think and see and feel. The pauses make the time I spend more valuable emphasising the difference between work and play, rest and action. And what does it matter if it takes 30 seconds more, or even an extra day or two? The things that are really important will still be there tomorrow.

89 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric Harrison permalink
    May 7, 2010 18:04

    Hi James, rain is always great on a tin roof, very soothing. Time on the other hand is in our hands and we are the ones who really determine the pace by either seccumbing to pressures put on us by others forces or by us simply saying No to certain things not deemed important enough for such urgency whatever the outcome.

    We only need to fulfill one’s expectation legitimately, that being God’s. He is in no real hurry and has a different take on what is important, necessary or urgent. We just need to be bold enough to flow with His agenda and not be pressured by our fear of man’s expectation or our perception of such.

  2. james herbertson permalink*
    May 7, 2010 18:41

    True Eric. Thanks for your comment. :)

  3. May 7, 2010 22:51

    So true James,
    I do recognized my past life in this..
    It’s good to reflect and think over.
    6 days of labour and the 7th to think over the last 6. And than change the next 6 to do it better.
    We need the 7th day.

    Thanks sharing !!

    Another human

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:38

      Thanks Johnny
      Rest is needed if we’re going to remain of any use.

  4. May 8, 2010 01:58

    James I tried to convey that perspective years ago to you but you roughly brushed me off relying on my sufferance to retain the friendship, which I did and still do. But at what price? My heart goes out to you…it’s a life lesson that others could do well to observe and learn from you. I of course also agree with Eric’s perspective too. ….think a lot of yoy mate.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:39

      Thanks Graham
      You have always been the best of friends even if I became too busy to notice.
      Love to you and patty

  5. Biswajit permalink
    May 8, 2010 02:01

    Wow!Nice thoughts.I always like rain except sometime.It’s the small things in life that more.I m happy for ur change.Keep writing.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:40

      the beauty of rain is it comes when it chooses… not always convenient… I guess its like a lot of stuff in life… when it comes unexpected it changes us

  6. May 8, 2010 02:12

    James, I can fully relate. In a more feminie version of the same time-constrained hysteria, I often find myself trying to trick time. I may be addressing an envelope to a client, pasting on the stamp, while paying a bill on the phone, while driving with my knees holding the steering wheel, while entertaining the screaming children wiggling in their carseats. And you run and you run to catch up with the sun …You try to beat the clock, get things done, done, done! But in the end, the joke’s on you…because once the “things” are “done”….well, they’re done. It’s over.

    And I only wonder if we stopped and listened, what would we hear? Could we bear the calm, the peace?

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:43

      thanks for the comment
      When we stop we hear a lot more. I’ve had moments where the quiet seemed overwhelming, yet its in those moments when clarity seems to come. I love to top and think and look… at rain, the beach, the sky. Moments of prayer and reflection. moments of just being there. Love the Floyd quote :)

  7. May 8, 2010 02:19

    Good post and good for you! I stopped wearing a watch about 10 years ago and that was freedom for me.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 11, 2010 17:54

      i’m not quite at the no watch stage :)

  8. Raul Alanis permalink
    May 8, 2010 02:35

    People sometimes forget that the world around us is full of so many wonderful things. The summer wind and its feeling of warmth as it brushes across your face can become a minuscule detail of life, as we often spend our time staring down at our watches. The sounds of birds chirping songs accompanying the beauty of nature around us are lost as our phones or I-pods are pressed firmly to our ears. There’s a certain simplistic beauty that transcends even the most mundane details of our lives, but we are often guilty of taking it for granted. Sometimes we just need to stop and take notice. Life is out there waiting to be enjoyed. Time, on the other hand, could care less.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:45

      Thanks paul
      I used to be blackberried… now i have a simple phone. i’m enjoying that as it gives me more time to just live.

  9. May 8, 2010 03:07

    I think you touched on my reaction to our ever-increasing focus of time efficiency as a culture: unsustainability. Time is ever more “valuable” in a model based on continuous growth where the future supposedly holds more success, more money and more rewards. Clearly, this life model has to end somewhere. Limits exist, even if we have not found them yet and may not in our generation.

    Then of course, as you point out, we wonder how much we miss when moving at light speed; the difference between moving through a city on a highway and walking on the sidewalk. Our news is condensed into tiny tidbits of isolated events, trying to simplify the complexities of society by stripping the interconnected nature of all events–their causes and repercussions. I couldn’t agree more James–taking a breath every once in a while, or even more than every once in a while, is more than worth the clocked time lost on hourly wages.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:46

      yep… we live in a time poor economy. but when you think about it our time is the only commodity that matters. waste that and we’ve wasted all.

  10. May 8, 2010 03:07

    Loved this post! Reminded me of the quote:

    “Most of us spend the first 1/2 of our life spending our health to get our wealth and the second 1/2 of our life, spending our wealth to get our health”

    Curious if there was a breaking point for you? One main event that caused you to stop and consider and change your pace?

    thanks for posting this!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:49

      Paul and jen
      it all added up. pressure that I cant go into here. the travel didnt help, but in the end as my friend Eric told me, it was in my power to say no. the breaking point was feeling the dis-integration of myself.

  11. HybridTalk permalink
    May 8, 2010 03:09

    After some years (I am 53) you learn to slow down. Take in life. You stop using people while loving things, and begin to love people while using things.

    Now to help you get through airports quicker these days, I have seen a possible business opportunity. After learning that the NY bomber and the underwear bomber were able to pass through airport security without being stopped or checked I figure Americans can use this new product to speed their own travel.

    The Easy_Pass Airport Kit:

    – Includes one weathered Koran to make you look like a true believer

    – padded underwear provides the suggestion of an explosive package

    – Sandals made from the recycled package of C-4 explosives.

    The kit also includes a disguise that will help you appear as a young male of the Islamic faith, who would be easily offended. The disguise will include bold menacing eyebrows to intimidate racist screeners.

    Why not get the same quick treatment airport screeners give possible terrorists? Order your kit now and we will upgrade your C-4 sandals to new canvas tennis shoes that have a fuse coming out of the heel.

    Hope that lightens your day. B^)

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:50

      um… i think i’ll pass on that :) have a good one!

  12. May 8, 2010 03:24

    Very well said. The whole business of racing aganist the clock, meeting deadlines, pressure in the workplace to get things done at a faster pace, even rushing through tasks at home: all of this contributes to a less satisfying quality of life. Living in the moment – and slowly savouring the moment – is what makes life worth living. “The Slow Movement” is a cultural association attempting to promote this:

    Thank you for this wise and insightful post.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:51

      bring on slow
      thanks for the comment

  13. Michael Horn permalink
    May 8, 2010 03:50

    That’s what I dislike about modern life and technology such as the internet. Because we’ve reached a point in society where we can produce, create, learn, and travel at extremely quick rates with little to no hassle, it’s sort of become expected that we do. A Friday off of work or school in the 50’s meant getting an early lead on that weekend camping trip with your spouse and kids. Today it’s just a missed opportunity to contribute, create, and make more money and when taking that Friday off to reduce stress, it does just the opposite. It creates more because we know that we might be missing something important. So we try to feed that void of emptiness. It makes it hard to enjoy anything nowadays. You just sort of artificially float through life, buying this, doing that, working here, resting there. It’s something I hate to see, but what are you going to do, you know?

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:52

      thanks for the thoughtful reply…
      I try to remember not to miss what i choose to pass on. A friday off sounds like a capital idea :)

  14. May 8, 2010 04:04

    Thank you

    God is the Master Craftsmen of relationships.


  15. May 8, 2010 04:52

    I really enjoyed your blog, thanks for sharing ;)

  16. May 8, 2010 05:21

    I really enjoyed this blog post. I love how you were able to build a more genuine relationship by simply slowing! Cheers to you, James!

  17. May 8, 2010 06:54

    thanks james for posting this beautiful awakening. i so get what you are saying. for most of the late 80s and 90s as a hard news reporter in a country in transit, my most used phrase was “i’m on deadline” and i always was. when my mom or my nieces and nephews, still at the age when they actually wanted to talk to me, called i just didn’t have time – how very silly indeed. a lot of unconsciousness in the time poor model of the world. today i also rejoice in the rain (and sometimes even dance in it), and i give thanks for the real connections with people.
    I loved your piece, thanks.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:53

      funny that the word “dead” is in “deadlines… could be a link maybe?
      thanks for taking the time to comment

  18. Athena Grace permalink
    May 8, 2010 07:29

    What are we all racing toward, anyway, DEATH?! I had lunch with my friend and her two year old daughter today, and afterward, the little girl wanted to ride the escalator… so I went with her. We were so absorbed in the ride, but we blocked the way of those who wanted to WALK down in a flurry. A hand full of people became so disgruntled and aggressive. As if their lives were threatened because they had to stand still for ten seconds. God. I am that disgruntled person on occasion, so I can’t bitch too hard… but it makes me sad that so many americans spend such a high percentage of time with our heads up our asses. Good for you for pulling yours out!!!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:55

      was that you on the escalator? ;)
      glad you took the time to enjoy the ride
      thanks for the comment

  19. May 8, 2010 07:42

    Beautiful! Amen! Though my schedule is DEFINITLEY not THAT hectic, I am always trying to space my activities so there is always time to enjoy a cup of tea and good conversation.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:56

      tea makes the world go around

  20. May 8, 2010 07:46

    Very nicely said. You didn’t say whether you’ve had to sacrifice income/status in your newly sane life but I’m sure you’ve gained much more valuable things such as the ability to appreciate the sound of rain or true interaction with another human being. And I don’t know about you, but when you travel now you probably see the people in the airport as individuals with their own interesting lives rather than as obstacles slowing you down. Congratulations!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:59

      Thanks Thomas
      yes to the lowered income, but I consider my “status” as being intact. In the end impressing others wears thin. Glad you enjoyed the blog

  21. May 8, 2010 08:14

    Been there, done that, still running. Thank you for giving me pause.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 8, 2010 11:59

      you’re welcome :)

  22. May 8, 2010 08:21

    Hi James,

    You have beautifully pointed out what is right in front of our eyes but gets missed on a regular basis- the difference between getting things done and actually being present and fully participating in our lives.

    Being present to actually experience each moment is so rich and satisfying that I feel I have plenty of time to do whatever I want…time actually feels more expansive when I am not rushing through my day.

    I feel glad that you are reaping the benefits of slowing down and enjoying the rain and good conversations and more I imagine. Your ability to question the results of your frenetic pace and actually make a choice to change and adjust your expectations for a more sustainable and realistic pace of life is commendable.

    Thanks for a great post!


  23. May 8, 2010 09:07

    James, I get what you’re talking about. Took some leave from work recently myself to slow it all down… and I am loving the slower pace!
    Started a blog too just to help see things I wouldn’t normally notice.
    A great blog and post. Thanks.

  24. May 8, 2010 10:44

    More on the sound of rain…close your eyes and really listen to it…it sounds like bacon frying.

    Hawkeye said that on an episode of MASH where he went temporarily blind. I was ten years old and ever since, I close my eyes every time it rains and think “wow it really does”…

  25. May 8, 2010 11:12

    Beautiful words, thank you. We can live a time poor life regardless of our circumstances. It’s great to be reminded what really matters.
    This lovely piece is a very deserving ‘freshly pressed’ selection.

  26. May 8, 2010 13:14

    You have reminded us all to slow down and take time to smell the roses. I welcome a rainy day and a slower pace.I still rush when I am late for work, because I hate to be late. Planning for the delays on the highway really helps. In life this helps too. Time to rest and relax, laugh and sit down are all important to our health.

  27. May 8, 2010 15:17

    Living in the Middle East for the past 10 years has taught me the value of slowing down.

    The pace of life here much slower than what we’ve grown to expect in North America. Business here is only conducted after time is spent in building a relationship. I remember when first moving here how I had to have a cup of tea when meeting with a car dealer when I was looking to buy a new vehicle. I didn’t want a cup of tea and all the small talk. I wanted to get down to business! Now, I see the value in that.

    I’m trying to slow down and take notice of the world around me. That in itself, is hard work.

    Enjoyed your post – thanks for sharing!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 16:04

      it is hard work slowing down… it took me many months… but it’s worth it

  28. May 8, 2010 17:42

    Enjoyed your blog. It is so true. We own our business and we can never do anything without multi-tasking with something for the business. Never just some downtime. If we go own a trip for relaxation it is always somehow business related. My husband was refered to this practice as taking your fishing pole with when you’re going for a romantic walk on the beach. You are not really going for the walk for the sake of the walk you are thinking about what you would rather be doing or trying to do both. Jeanne

  29. May 8, 2010 22:24

    The crunch of time and the stillness of rain. :) I enjoy your writing. I’d say we have similar styles. I would like to invite you to check out my blog Rivers Ruminations. I think you will enjoy reading some of my pieces.
    I will be back to read more. :)

  30. colin L beadon permalink
    May 8, 2010 23:03

    We take on in life, what we choose. But it takes a few years of growing up, to appreciate that we can choose not to choose, half or much less, of what we allow ourselves to get tied up to.
    When did you last step into a wood in late evening, and listen, really deeply intently listen, thinking of nothing else but listening ?

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 16:03

      yes colin… listening. seems a forgotten art. i stroll my local beach just hearing the waves. best sound i’ve heard

  31. May 9, 2010 01:05


    I am delighted with this post, with what you are saying and what you have done. A great transformation indeed.

    I am at the other end of the career trajectory but see it easy to get caught up in wat you describe. Of course I want to do a good job but this can often come by relaxing deeper than revving up. Or so I am attempting to find!

    Has it made a difference to the quality of the business you do?

    Kind regards,

    Arjuna’s Octupus

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 16:02

      Thanks Arjuna
      My business is completely changed and I work in a much more low pressure job. But i’m happy and enjoy “switching off” which i hadnt done for years.

  32. May 9, 2010 01:19

    Why is it so difficult to get to this “in the moment” place James? I just turned in my grades after a very hectic Spring semester teaching art and photography courses for a variety of colleges both online and in the classroom. The skill of being present and hearing the rain so to speak is not an easy one to develop, at least for me. It takes concerted effort to constantly remind oneself to just breath, slow down, listen, enjoy and even relish things like the rain tapping on the roof, the afternoon light raking across the newly mowed yard or a crimson sunset breaking majestically through the clouds on a summer day. I don’t know how I stumbled upon your blog but I’m glad I did if for no other reason but to just remind me to “slow down” and be present. cheers!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 16:00

      thanks patrick… I’m fortunate to have a verandah that enables me to sit and hear the rain. Tin roofs are a blessing.

  33. May 9, 2010 01:27

    I want to share with you a song: Rain on my Tin Roof by the Avett Brothers.

    I don’t know you and will never meet you but it captures your sentiments.

  34. Menotyou permalink
    May 9, 2010 02:45

    nice post. i know that more often than not iv found myself in the crippling grip of times fist. really enjoyed the thoughts and the first but about the rain was particularly good. cash currency is an illusion everything we purchase we buy with time. in fact my first press ever was about just this…


    i bought a new car with three years of my life.
    its fast. its furious. it will go zero to liquid in under thirty seconds. iv already had sex on every surface of it. some more than once. theres still a monitary system sure but in the face of this new standard it is all but an irrelevant novelty. the best things you spend your life to get. like the telivision i bought for six months. it dominates my living room where there used to be a fire place. my cable bill is astronomical, i get a hundred and fifty seven thousand channels. the picture is sharp and absolute. in digital high definition i see my life pass before my eyes.

    tiny incriments of time. a trip to the grocery store and your down a few hours. a trip to a resturant and your down a day. a day and a half if you tip well and bring a date. a big tipper for anything is sexy. if you pay for something with yur life its supposed to mean something.

    there are those who invest in time. i am not one of these. they hoard time and clutch it close to their breast and at the cost of never living they live forever, a death that lasts a lifetime.

    on game shows you can win a month. at work your rewarded with minutes, hours if your job is good. the thing about people is that they never change no matter how hard they cry. eliminate all natural causes of death and people will gladdly invent their own demise. in a sense this system is infinitely better than the old. in the past we spent time to get money to get time. now its just time. hollow questions like what you did with your day are suddenly filled with consequence and walks in the park become extravagant excess.

    its a more honest form of commerce in my opinion. like the car that cost me three years or the wife that cost my neighbor thirty five. its all up front and with no hiden fees. this is what it takes to get that. things never cost money, even in the old way. they always cost time. everyone knew it. but nobody got it. but they knew it, dont let anyone try and fool you, and now the competition for your hard earned moments has never been more fierce. try me. buy me. watch me. taste me. hold me. love me. im yours and for the low low price of ten easy payments out the door.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:54

      time… its all we really have
      thanks for the comments

  35. May 9, 2010 02:47

    great post!

    i totally get what you feel about the time and just not having enough of it when we rush through life.
    I mean, in the end, we’ve all got 24 hours, its how we spend those 24 hours that matter.
    If we spend all those hours rushing, how many hours do we actually get to live the life that God gave us?
    We spend countless hours doing stuff everyone has to do, like sleeping, using the bathroom, getting dressed, eating a meal, or whatever. So subtract all THOSE hours and then subtract all the hours we’ve spent not caring and in the end we’ve got, like, what, 30 years of ACTUAL living.
    and just for the record, going night swimming and looking at the stars in the sky makes the time seem like its stopped and theres only you in the entire world.
    Just you and the stars and the heavens and the water.

    Its awesome :)

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:49

      Thanks Cleona
      I used to swim in my pool at night after work when I lived in Byron Bay. Must say I miss it.

  36. Too Tall Jones permalink
    May 9, 2010 03:36

    I wonder if the old time portable hip flasks filled with the liquids of relaxation would help in these these frantic urban times? I mean if more of us carried them.. Hmmmm

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:47

      I’ll drink to that!

  37. Songbird permalink
    May 9, 2010 03:41

    Yes James, I think London does it to all of us… I do not juggle two cities but I two juggle two commutes… the pace in London (or for any major city I would think) is just absolutely relentless… there are times when I stop and think, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could listen to ourselves and our bodies more- that on a day you don’t feel well, you can guiltlessly stay at home and recover and not run through your head all day of all the emails you should be answering, all the work you should be doing… or that morning when you wake up already exhausted- you could take that day off, or just stay in bed, or read or book or listen to the rain or whatever it is that you and your body needs!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:47

      London… yes… sigh. I don’t miss the tube. Thanks for you comments

  38. May 9, 2010 04:53

    great post!

  39. May 9, 2010 05:36

    You’ve got a great perspective now, James. Glad you’ve slowed down!

  40. May 9, 2010 09:18

    Having recently graduated from university, and still going back for graduate school, this really resonated with me. I didn’t know how to put some sort of bookend on the day and just set the work aside. I always had to be on the move or working on something and the things that really mattered, like friends and family and enjoying a good meal started to feel like a nuisance, which I soon realized made no sense. Gradually I forced myself to adopt new habits. If it was getting ridiculously late and whatever I was working on wasn’t due the next day, I’d learn to put it down and just relax without guilt. In fact, when I learned to stop working constantly, I worked more effectively.

    The message of your post is simple, but it’s too often forgotten and needs to be reinforced. Glad you’ve found some peace.

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:46

      Thanks Ravi
      ending the work day is a challenge many fail. Just stop is a good motto :)

  41. jennymeigs permalink
    May 9, 2010 09:24

    Feeling overwhelmed by the constant and fast paced pressures I did a Google search a few weeks ago and jut put in “how to live simply.” The phrases “Voluntary Simplicity” and “Simple Living” came up and I found a wealth of good information that helped me breathe and relax. Ideas of ways to simplify my life and a way where I control my life more than it controls me. A friend also recommended a book by Richard Foster called “Freedom of Simplicity.” Reading your post made me think of all this. Thank you for writing it!

    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:45

      Thanks Jenny
      I’ll do such a google search myself later… anything that simplifies our world so that we can actually enjoy it is worth finding.

  42. alexheath permalink
    May 9, 2010 15:36


    “The guy who didn’t have his laptop out before he arrived at the x-ray security machine, or the person whose passport was still in the bag at border control… these were the enemy, to be hated for their tardy actions that slowed my relentless passage through life.”
    These lines are brilliant, and fully resonate with me. My constant travel has led me to get increasing angry at people who don’t take off their belts, or forget to take their wallets out of their pockets. “Why arent you prepared!” I silently seeth. “Is this your first time in an airport!” I mutter.
    But your points are so well taken. Where am I really going? I’m just fighting through security so I can go sit at the gate. I’m just rushing past fellow travelers so I can get to immigration faster, get into country X faster, get in a taxi faster, get to my hotel faster, so I can… what? Get to a meeting where everyone else is late anyway?
    Glad I found your blog. I will keep reading.


    • james herbertson permalink*
      May 9, 2010 15:43

      Thanks Alex
      It amazes me how antagonistic I became in the situation. 10 years of constant travel exhausted me. Like you put it so well, getting there faster proves pointless as everyone else is invariably late… Life by the beach suits me much better now :) Glad you enjoyed it

      • May 9, 2010 16:49

        Yes, but I have to admit that even in my current chilled modality I still can’t believe it when people at a checkout suddenly realize that they need money and have to search every pocket/purse for their wallet. Duh!

    • May 9, 2010 16:50

      Yeah! I think so too. Your construction and diction are excellent! I can read this piece over and over again.

  43. May 9, 2010 16:39

    I live in Africa, where life is relatively less paced. I am an entrepreneur in the ICT industry. I can identify with your story. In my case, i have lost friends, some of which are very valuable to me. More time dedicated to corporate activities is a direct deduction from the time we have to appreciate natures’ ingeniously engineered elements like love, family, friendship, what have you. There are times when i feel very lonely, and wish i was a little bit “normal.” In my case i can’t slow down as i own this new machine i have created. Dismantling it would mean an end to my livelihood. The strange thing is that, the more money you make, the more you feel it needs to be protected and sustained. Hence the more meeting, and more hours on the run. If i had then chance, i would have done things differently, but for now, i guess i am stuck in it well until a reasonable retiring age (45 perhaps). Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on my life.

  44. May 9, 2010 19:45

    Living in the urban desert that is Beijing, rainy days or moments are something I adore. It just means everyone has to stop and wait for the rain to finish. It’s always a signal for me to just curl up and ponder.

  45. colin L beadon permalink
    May 9, 2010 21:06

    To get away from an ultrahectic night and day oilfield job, I used to go sailing. Those days we didn’t have cell phones, often not even a VHF communications aboard. We’d sail a plank, long as it had a rig and some canvas, and sail till we left land behind.
    The nights were too wonderful to behold, with just the glow of stars, and sometimes a flying fish, silvery and flopping, would land on deck by the helm. The worst part was tieing up at the dock,… at the end.

  46. May 9, 2010 21:41

    Hi James,
    Your post completely resonated with me. From the time my son was 6 months old to when he was almost 3, I was travelling for work at least every second week for 2 or 3 days at a time. When I had my second child, I realized that I needed to slow down. I was losing precious time with my children.
    While I still work for the same company I am no longer travelling to the same degree. Work life harmony is very hard to achieve but we are working on it. Often rainy weekends are spent playing a boardgame or watching a movie or baking as a family. These are the times I can know the rain is there but I don’t need to listen to it.


  47. May 9, 2010 21:59

    Very well said.
    I’ve only just started to realise how fast my life has become. The development is only recent – up until a few months ago it was quite cruisy, but a family upheaval shot me forward. I did take a walk today, as a break from the mountain of work sitting on my desk, and it was nice just to walk through the trees without thinking about my work or getting somewhere or getting something done. Definitely something I will be doing more.
    Thank you for a great blog post.

  48. Myrthe permalink
    May 10, 2010 00:04

    I really love this blog James..! Thanks

  49. May 10, 2010 04:23

    The article is so very well written.

    I remember a being in Mumbai during the monsoon. It is so strange – I was eagerly waiting for the first rains and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were scores of so many people who were simply cursing it. I wonder if they ever enjoyed rains in all their long life.

    Do you mind if I share your blog? I would like to take a print out of it and paste it so that everyone can read it.

  50. TheSecond permalink
    May 10, 2010 04:46


    Very nice piece sir, and I believe you’re scratching the surface of what it means to be alive in the 21st century. Imagine only now ‘discovering’ what it means/feels to connect with a fellow human over the basics of life. It’s as though these connections have become a hidden secret in a society that is forever belabored at division and hostility toward our fellow man.

    Keep connecting sir, we will all be better for it in the long run.

  51. May 10, 2010 05:21

    wow, you surprisingly gave me a rather nice read with this one, i was a little irritated about the reference to the rain in the beginning when i got more than half way through, wondering why you started off with it, but i see where you went with it, the rain reference is actually insignificant to me, the real message here, is one that i have preached for years. your anger, frustration, and stress because of things that happen around you, in which you have little to no control over, helps your situation not one bit. the results afterward will never glow with positivity. you were a fool for thinking even though you had it all timed perfectly, that you should give yourself absolutely no wiggle room to work with. there is some beauty in those delays and disasters, and if you give yourself enough time to calmly endure them, you will see a more surreal picture of what life is, the humor, stupidity, intrigue, and brilliance that surrounds you, should be more observed, and not down right loathed because you think you dont have time for it. As you have realized, you do have time for it, and as a whole it is beautiful, so let the rain fall my friend, let the fucking rain fall.

    • May 10, 2010 07:54

      James, I know you have a responsibility to your readers to be polite so allow me to openly irritated for you.

      Frigster – how self-righteous can you get!!

      Love all,

      A’s O

  52. May 10, 2010 19:06

    I’m happy to hear you’ve gleaned a new appreciation for the slow lane. You would have hated me;) I’m that person who can’t find her passport when I walk up to the ticket counter, has a panic and dumps her whole entire purse on the floor looking for it.

  53. May 10, 2010 23:11

    Great. You have suddenly become much richer. Time and mellowness cannot be bought. They can be squandered though.

  54. May 13, 2010 00:11

    UGGH! You are so right, but it’s also hard to get there sometimes. I’m working, running kids to overlapping sports and trying to manage dinner and my husbands needs. I’m left overwhelmed and tired without a spare minute to myself.

    One of these days…. one of these days… :)

  55. May 14, 2010 02:06

    I felt exactly the same. I guess we all get hooked up on the system. Until we realize that we actually want to live..LIFE!

    Nice blog man

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