Jerry Seinfeld on Cigars and Hurry

If you know me at all, you probably know that I am a huge Seinfeld fan. In fact, I am fulfilling a bucket list item next week by getting to go see him. I am very excited! So in preparation, I finally sat down to watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

While I was watching it, a particular conversation struck me. Most of the show is very odd, meaningless conversation. In this particular episode, Jerry is talking to Larry David about how he used to love to listen to him talk while he was smoking a cigar.

So they launch into this whole conversation about why you want to listen to someone who is smoking a cigar versus someone smoking a cigarette. Now, if you’re not much of a smoker – hang with me.

Here’s where they landed: Someone smoking a cigar is not in a hurry. And what struck me most about this revelation is that it took them awhile to come to this conclusion. They analyzed each form of smoking and what it communicates. Cigarettes communicate anxiety and are gone quickly. Cigars require you to be in it for a long haul. But after talking through it, there was a deep sense of recognition.

And as I was watching a somewhat meaningless conversation, I watched them stumble upon something very profound:

People who are not in a hurry make a lasting impression on people.

They are the kinds of people whose presence is hard to shake. When someone is un-hurried, their presence has a profound impact on us, even if we cannot articulate why.

We live in a world filled with anxiety and hurry. It defines most of our days. So when we brush up against someone who is not in a hurry, their presence sticks with us. It is as if our soul recognizes in them something it desperately needs.

I had coffee with a man like this in October. I didn’t really know him and we only had one long conversation. But very few days go by where I don’t think back on our talk. He probably doesn’t even know it made a difference. But when you are the presence of someone centered like that, it messes with you. It makes you desire that kind of presence in your life.

What if that was all it took to make a difference in the world and in other people’s lives?

We often assume that in order to do either of those we need more grand gestures or impressive programs. What if instead, we did the radical thing of “ruthlessly eliminating hurry from our lives?” (I got that here)

Because I think when we do this, we can make a meaningful impact on people. We point people to something different – even if we don’t sit down and explain it. We show them that there is another way to do life that is richer and fuller and saturated with meaning.

That is who I want to be. But it takes the hard work of learning to not be in a hurry. Which is what our world desperately needs.

When have you experienced this in someone?

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