When our friend Penny won a 3-minute-shopping-spree at a local supermarket, she prepared for it with all the seriousness of a military operation. Before the big day, she went through the aisles with a clipboard, noting what she wanted. She recruited friends to stand in the aisles, desired items at the ready, to throw into her cart. Finally, she bought a pair of sneakers so that she could run down the aisles without slipping. On the alert, the bell went off, and so did she. Penny ran through the aisles, friends at the stations threw in the goods, and she slid into the finish line with nearly $700 of merchandise!
Life is the big 3-minute dash. There’s a lot we want to get out of it, and only a little bit of time. How can we make the most of this opportunity? We make lists, star the things we really want; we recruit friends to help us; we gear up with the necessary attire and equipment. We come armed with energy and excitement. And hopefully, like Penny, we’ll slide into the finish line with a wealth of goods – good deeds, good words, good thoughts.
But to live like this all the time is wearing. We humans don’t do well with constant pressure. We need moments where we escape the reality of life’s intensity and finiteness. Why we crave vacations and weekends. These pauses allow us to return to life and work with renewed excitement, freshness, and energy. It’s part of what makes these summer months so precious to students and teachers.
Yes, life is short and there’s a lot to see and do. But we need to remember that it’s not the finish-line that’s the point of this exercise; it’s running the course that counts.
(Based on Pirkei Avot 2:15-16)