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Life Day By Day

Living life on fast-forward

Are you, like me at times, living your life on fast-forward? Today’s world is moving at such a pace. Yes, even with COVID-19. Life is a continual motion. Always moving forward. There is the sense that we have to get somewhere faster than the time before.

I became aware of this when I was watching television a few days ago. It was a current affairs type program with guests debating topical issues. I had listened to one speaker for long enough. I reached for the button to fast-forward to something more interesting. I then realised that as it was a live program and there was no fast-forward option!

Does such behaviour have something to do with too much Netflix? Where the opportunity to fast-forward is there all the time. Why do we fast-forward? Is it to get away from uninteresting parts of the story? Or because the suspense of what is happening in ten frames away is entirely in our own hands. We cannot wait to find out what happens, so we press the fast-forward button.

Though using the fast-forward option should not happen when viewing television with others. It is best to only engage in this behaviour when on your own.

Yet, living life on fast-forward is not exclusive to movies or television programs. There are expectations that have crept up on us that life should move fast. There is the fast-food trend. No need to pre-plan the weekly menu. There is no shopping, or preparing, or cleaning-up. All it takes is a short walk or car drive to pick up a meal or a phone call for a delivery. For the latter there is more packaging in the bin – more for landfill.

Then there is online shopping. But what about the behaviour of the computer? Is my computer the only one to misbehave? It is too slow. The little circle goes round and round. So, as I am living my life on fast-forward, I can’t wait for it. I go off and do something else and return later.

Now that the computer has caught up, I place my online order. But then living life on fast-forward I have expectations. I expect that an item will arrive at my front door within days, not weeks! Yes, it recently happened. I had to follow up and find out why an item from Brisbane to Toowoomba took two weeks, when the drive is less than two hours. Other businesses can have an item at my front door in days. Three days from Western Australia was very impressive.

But try getting a medical appointment in this fast-forward world. All at once, everything slows down.

‘Sorry, the doctor can’t see you for another two weeks’.

‘But I’m feeling unwell now, I am not sure if I’ll be the same in two weeks.’ If only I could fast-forward to find out.

Then again, is this how it should be with medical people? We don’t want them rushing and making mistakes. So, it is better to wait while they take their time caring for others. One day you or I will be the ‘other’.

Another way we live our lives on fast-forward is when we read a newspaper, a book, or an article. I like reading journal articles. You can read the abstract and decide at the beginning whether to read on. It was liberating when I discovered there are no reading rules. You can jump chapters or skim read. If  curiosity gets the better of you, read the last chapter halfway through the book. But wait! Reading on fast-forward means you do not enjoy the journey of the story. I can break the ‘reading rules’ but fast-forward is not the answer. As the saying goes, ‘It is the journey, not the destination.’

Living life on fast-forward has it’s setbacks. If we drive too fast or not pay attention while driving, there can be severe consequences. Living life on fast-forward can cause a person to pick up their mobile while driving. Rather than slowing down and waiting until they arrive at their destination. Because of this tendency to live life on fast-forward it has caused life to end. I have written before about the young woman who died in a car crash. Her phone was found clutched in her hand.

Too much of living life on fast-forward can create mental stress. There are health benefits in slowing down and valuing what is in the present. Pressing the fast-forward button too often can take us away from mindful living. That is, enjoying one moment at a time. It is important to give our full attention to those in the photo frame of the moment. A rewind and a reset will make life that little bit better.  

Photo by Mohamed Almari on

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