Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Walked Slowly Today

I walked slowly today. It was hard.

Today was errands day in town and I had a lot of places to go. The post office, the recycle center, the Food Lion, the hardware store, the co-operative marketplace. For some reason, I don’t know why, I parked in the far reaches of each lot and strolled slowly everywhere I went. Years of habitual hurrying have programmed me otherwise, hustling and bustling to make a living, but today I focused on every step, felt the strike of each heel and each push of my toes. I languished in each stride and kept my breath deep and slow to match my snail’s pace. I walked as if I had all day. Luckily, I did.

I smiled and said hello to everyone who crossed my path today. It was hard because, at today’s pace, it meant a lot of hellos to people I didn’t know. I found that it’s harder to greet strangers at the hardware store than at the grocery. I suppose it’s more natural to nod a “good day” over a bin of bright apples than a roll of chicken wire. I got a few funny looks, and a scowl or two, but I also got more than a handful of beautiful smiles and surprised, pleasant acknowledgements. These spontaneous, momentary friendships, were surprisingly satisfying despite their brevity.

I drove the speed limit today. It may have been the hardest thing I've done in years. My truck didn’t like it much. It missed that sweet spot where engine and road seem to hum in perfect harmony, the one that always seems to exist at precisely seven miles-per-hour beyond what’s posted. Thank goodness for cruise control. I suspect that I annoyed a few folks who were driving behind me as I moved casually through town. Not all that long ago it would have annoyed me, too. I’d think, “What is that slowpoke’s problem?” Now I know that it was my problem, not theirs.

I looked up instead of down today. It’s easier to do when you are walking slowly and absolutely necessary if you are going to say hello to everyone. It’s such a little thing, the tilt of the head, but today the sun warmed my face instead of burning the back of my neck. I let people in line in front of me today and tried not to care what they might think. I dawdled and delayed as everything caught my eye, everything interested me, everything seemed pertinent. I stretched each moment today.

I got a glimpse of my future today. It’s hard to accept that someday, in not too many years, I’ll move at this pace by necessity rather than by choice. But as the day progressed and I settled into an unhurried rhythm, I found that there are so many compensations for the forfeiture of haste and I began to realize that a life without hurry was a life I might just become comfortable in.

I walked slowly today. It was hard. But I think I’ll do it again tomorrow.

It's the time of year that's tough on fishing and this weekend's incoming storm will be wiping out yet another planned trout expedition. So I offer the above essay, written for the creative non-fiction class I am just starting to take at the local community college.

I'll be back fishing soon, I hope. Have patience. 'Til then, take the time to walk slowly yourself.


Anonymous said...

"Hurry has ruined more Americans than has any other word in the vocabulary of life. It is the scourge of America, and is both a cause and a result of our high-pressure civilization.

This is a characteristic of hurry. It seeks ever to make energy a substitute for a clearly defined plan; the result is as hopeless as trying to transform a hobby-horse into a real steed by brisk riding.

Hurry is the death blow to calmness, to dignity, to poise. The old-time courtesy went out when the new-time hurry came in."

--William George Jordan, The Majesty of Calmness

Parker said...

Hey Mike, thanks for sharing that with us. I enjoyed it a lot. I try to slow down from time to time. My wife, however, seems to think I am slow enough as it is. Not sure I should slow down much more! Looking forward to more.

Neusewader said...

Quick! Get out the thermamobobby or the pulsimeter and see if the cold has completely froze you up!

Anonymous said...

A great reminder to us all, slow down and open your eyes to all that is around us.