The Pace of Processing
I have this large bag above the washing machine where I store the coins rescued from pockets and removed from overflowing wallets. Every year, the bag reaches its bursting point, the hard imprints of the coinage threatening to rip apart the delicate walls.
The money is essentially worthless in this form. Pounds of pennies required in order to exchange for something of value. So every year, I haul the bag to the grocery store, where I feed the coins through a machine that turns my useless currency into crisp, worthwhile bills (minus a service fee, of course).
Every year, I fail to remember the plodding pace of the machine and I inevitably overload it with too great a volume. But the machine will not be hurried; it processes trash into treasure at its own pace. It reads each piece of input, sorting it into an appropriate pile after making note of its value. Some items it deems unable to be classified, and it spits them out for further review.
The machine works best when the coins are fed into it at a steady trickle. When the entire bag is upended, the sheer mass of the coins slows down the feed into the chute, the pathways gummed up and the limits overloaded. Regardless, the process always feels protracted to me, always taking longer than I assume it should. I grow frustrated at the delay between placing the coins on the shelf and the total being updated on the screen, which continues to change long after the last coin has disappeared into its maw.
We are not unlike that unhurried coin machine when it comes to processing our pasts and our pains.
We do best when information is fed to us in a steady stream. It gives time to fully break apart each new tidbit before facing the next.
When too much is piled on, it overwhelms the process and yet each element is attended to in its own time.
There is no rushing the exercise. It simply takes time to sort through the detritus, spitting out the garbage and finding the value in the rest.
There is often a lag between the input and the conclusion. It doesn’t mean progress isn’t happening.
It means it has its own timeline.