Slow Being Put to the Test
April 22, 2009
Safely esconced in the confines of my tiny New York hotel room, I am typing this in rhythm with the traffic nine stories below. I can see why New Yorkers have a hard time slowing down. It is natural for human beings to adapt to their surroundings. As far as I can tell, the Slow Movement has not yet hit the streets of Manhattan.
There is a softer lilt to the City now. Cabs are easier to hail as drivers fight for the shrinking pool of rides. Much of what I’ve observed has to do with the financial crisis. I sense more humility, less brash. In a way, the slowdown has slowed people down just a tad. It’s made them pensive, thoughtful, almost inward in a new kind of way.
Yesterday’s airport shuttle bus ride taught me a lesson or two about the power of slow. If you’ve ever taken a bus of collective travellers/hotel guests, you’ll know you typically get a free tour of the City before landing at your own hotel. Yesterday’s ride was no exception.
After a nine-hour transatlantic flight, I just wanted a shower and some dinner. I noticed how my ungrateful thoughts soured my attitude as I sat in the bus with the other passengers. Then I realized I could take the opportunity to keenly observe my surroundings. After all, that was why I had come to New York in the first place: to feel the vibe of America’s most pulsating city. I was being presented a free tour of New York. Why not enjoy the ride? I started to engage in conversation with the other passengers.
Outside the shuttle van I saw more people talking on their cellphones or listening to their iPods than anything else. Even the bus driver checked his PDA at every red light. I made a mental note about the challenges I might face bringing the power of slow to this place.
The biggest test of my own slow resolve came when we finally arrived at my hotel. The driver had handed a prior hotel guest my bag instead of his. It wouldn’t have set me into a full-fledged panic if my laptop and hand-edited manuscript of The Power of Slow hadn’t been in said bag. We looped around Time Square (again). It took ten minutes to drive two blocks. An arterial vein almost exploded in my core.
“Remember the breathing…” I told myself. Breathe the slow. Love the slow. Embrace the…oh the heck with it! There are moments when impulse just has to take over.
Get outta the way, buddy! I nearly shouted at the pedestrian blocking our way to absolution.
Moments later, we reached the other hotel. I asked for the hotel guest, whose name we had luckily gotten through our friendly conversation during the ride. He came down with the bag, wearing a sheepish grin.
“I hadn’t even noticed.”
The blood slowly returned to my face as I returned his smile.
“That’s okay. It’s just that, well, my life dream is in that bag.”
The very experience of loss and return had given me more than I knew. I now understood how the power of slow, with its softening reassurance, can move mountains…and road-blocking pedestrians when it has to!