Why Bother Slowing Down?
“Slow down, you move too fast,” are some words from The 59th Street Bridge (Feeling Groovy), a song written by Paul Simon. I’ve mostly liked the music of Simon and Garfunkel, and used to listen and sing along to their melodies. But, I never took the words to their songs seriously, especially this one.
Slow is not my natural speed. I’ve never been one to hang back or lally gag. When I move, it is purposeful. I’m on a mission to get from point A to point B with efficiency. Is it my personality, my disposition, or my demeanor? Is it nurture or nature? I only know that “it is.”
My mother and her mother were both swift movers. They never did anything in slow motion. My grandmother always sat on the edge of her chair, back upright, ankles slightly crossed, ready to move from sitting to standing in one second.
In the same fashion, my mother sat long enough for Dad to say the blessing over the food, but popped up right after the amen was said. She’d scurry away to fetch the salt and pepper shakers, turn off the oven or grab a rag to wipe up the milk someone always spilled during a meal. Did their ways leave an indelible imprint on my life? Perhaps so.
My mother taught me how to drive, though I never thought of myself to be as bad a driver as she was. She’d honk her horn at other drivers and call them names.
Though I hate getting behind a slow driver, one that will not exceed the speed limit by any degree, I’ve never honked at them or called them names, out loud.
By the same token, I don’t like to stop. Once I’m driving down the road, red lights and stop signs are an interruption to the groove of moving. Yes, I am the one who speeds up when a traffic light turns yellow. I don’t mean to be this way, it is just who I am.
I am early to work everyday, never late. Yet, no matter which route I take to get out of town and onto the highway, I’ve never found a route that takes less than five minutes. One of my sisters and I had this discussion a few days ago.
“Have you tried the Pine Street route?” she asked while driving to our destination.
“Yes, I’ve tried that route.”
“What about going down Ontario Street?”
“That is too far west I think.”
I thought it interesting that she, like me, had tried to find the quickest route out of our little town. I am not alone in my need for speed.
I was once called Speedy Gonzales when I worked in a nursing home. One of the patients dubbed me with this name, and I accepted it with a smile. It was his way of getting me to push him down to the dining room in his wheelchair. He knew he’d get there faster with me pushing him than with anyone else.
However, I am at odds with myself and here is why. Some years back, I started a personal yoga practice and now I’m a certified yoga instructor. As a practitioner, I know it is necessary to integrate into my life what I’ve been taught and one of the things I’ve been taught is to slow down, specifically, with the breath.
Belly breathing, breaths that are full, and long, are better for us than shallow chest breaths. When our breathing slows down, our mind slows down giving us pause, time to respond rather than to react.
Of course, this slowing down of the breath is not easy for me to practice. I still hate to get behind anyone who lally gags whether it is in the grocery store, on a hiking trail or highway. But, when the impatience arises inside of me, I am learning to breathe in long slow breaths and exhale just as slowly. Then I see new possibilities before me; there is a wide spot just up ahead where I can pass.
Why bother slowing down. I know it is worth it, but I’m still trying to discover the value for myself. I’ll keep you posted, and let you know when I do.