The Speed of Thought

The following essay is sponsored by Dropbox – a favorite standby for file organizing (and file remembering). As always, opinions and text are all mine!


Why yes, it does feel wildly ironic to hop a flight that catapults you 2,000 miles away from your living room in less than 6 hours, to rush around grabbing an Uber, refreshing your mascara, catching your breath and adjusting your skirt only to sit on a sofa with Maria Shriver and talk about the beauty of a slower life.

Life has a funny way about it.

Mostly, life here does feel slow. There are days in which none of us change out of our pajamas, where endless rounds of Uno are played and the crock pot roast simmers quietly and the dogs sleep at our slippered feet and we read another book, another, another.

And then there are the different days.

We’ve had a string of the “different” days lately – the ones that feel packed in with work-related tasks, with family emergencies or difficult parenting moments. Where Ken’s out of town, or I’m out of town, and the dog needs the surgery and the gutters need cleaned and the inbox is overflowing.

Mostly, we’re surviving.


A short list of things that keep me afloat when “mostly surviving” becomes the default:

  1. Chipotle
  2. Proverbs
  3. Lavender
  4. Dropbox

A few weeks ago, after a sleepless night with teething Scout and out-of-town Ken, I last-minute packed for Lake Arrowhead to teach a few journaling classes with these folks. I threw wool socks and deodorant into a carryon, remembered extra layers and a flashlight. I remembered my travel toothbrush and phone charger, shampoo and mittens. Floss, even. My laptop.

I forgot my presentation.

I didn’t realize my mistake until I’d landed at the campsite well past dark, until I’d aimlessly lugged my suitcase through snowdrifts, finally finding Cabin #14, finally settling into the top bunk to look for shapes in the woodgrain ceiling.

I said a silent prayer that I might have saved it to Dropbox a few months prior, told myself I’d check in the morning. And then, sleep.

I’ve always prided myself on my organizational skills. I am an over-preparer, a lover of control. Of course I’d saved it to Dropbox, right?

I hadn’t.

I scrolled and scrolled through my app files – endless photos from camel rides in India, shaman healer visits in Ecuador, rooftop pools in Singapore, a cold beer and crab legs in Haiti.

No presentation.

“I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.”

Rebecca Solnit wrote this.

I spent the bulk of the retreat, then, as you’d imagine: sneaking in blocks of time to prepare a new presentation, recalling bits of the old one from memory, conjuring bits of the new one from optimism.

It worked out. The new presentation was lovely, and was precisely what it needed to be.

And yet, when life gets fast and busy and filled, my mind moves faster than three miles an hour, far faster than the speed of thought. I forget things. I forget the birthdays of friends, I forget to pick up milk from the store, I forget the presentation at home.

I forget to add it to Dropbox.

Slow living doesn’t mean being mistake-free, nor does it offer a lifetime of control that’s void of forgetting what’s important. But it does mean carving out the time and space it takes to offer grace when the mistake inevitably arrives, and to offer wisdom to learn from the next one.

It means slowing your mind to the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.

Last week, then.

I’m en route to LAX, am awaiting the flight that will take me 2,000 miles away from my living room and onto Maria Shriver’s sofa.

A text: Urgent: can’t find that one headshot – can you resend asap? Sorry for rush, off to printers in five min!

(To offer grace when the mistake inevitably arrives…)

No worries, I write. Dropbox link in your email! See you soon.

(To offer wisdom to learn from the next one.)









  • I love that number 1 was Chipotle! How I miss that quick delicious meal fallback during busy times. (I live in Edinburgh, now, so no longer an option).

    I so relate to the Rebecca Solnit line. Sometimes it seems like our technology actually makes life more complicated (tech-support calls, anyone?). Getting back to basics and using dependable technology is really a sanity saver. As always, beautiful post.

    • Oh Deserae – I can’t tell you how many times Chipotle has served our family dinner. ;) Thank you for your kind words!

  • I currently save all my favorite meditations to Dropbox. Good stuff. I’ll remember to use it someday should I have presentations, too. = )

  • Over halfway through your book and I LOVE it! You have a real gift for writing Erin. Be blessed!

  • I read a quote recently that stuck with me, “God didn’t create hurry.” Not sure who wrote that, but I sure have been saying it and thinking it a lot lately! Also wondering what it would have been like to live in a time here in America where it was customary for men to let women have seats on the train when cars were overcrowded, or even just to let women step ahead of them on the escalator. Seems the world is too busy for small kindnesses, for an appreciation of each other. Slow is a luxury that you have to carve out for yourself, your family. And, at some sacrifice I dare say. Hoping we find the courage & faith to leap into slow — soon!

  • “[Slow living] means slowing your mind to the speed of thought, or thoughtfulness.”

    I absolutely love that and I think I might even post it up next to my computer screen. The root of my forgetfulness is that I challenge myself to think faster than my mind wants to. It’s so important to slow down. Your writing is always so lovely and gets me thinking. Thanks so much for another lovely post!

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