Dude, Slow Down

The other day, I was jaywalking across the street when I nearly got run over by a car.

“DUDE!” I yelled at his open window, “SLOW DOWN!”

His break lights come on to the tune of my angry muttering about both this man and all of New York and completed my perilous journey across the street.

But since then I’ve been thinking…

I could have been yelling the same thing at myself.

Or, no.

should be yelling the same thing at myself. Many of us should.

Slow. The Heck. Down.

Because we may not be traveling in cars, but we speed.

Where? I’m not quite sure.

And even when we know where we’re speeding. The question often remains.

Why?

Why do I feel a need to get there quickly?

I’ve written about this before and I’ll write about it again:

The elders in my family used to do this really annoying thing as we’d walk or drive anywhere. They would slow their pace and point to a house or flowers or a bird and say, “look at that roof!” or “look at the beautiful flowers!” or “oh! Such a pretty bird!”

I thought it would stop when I grew up. When I became a ‘mature’ human.

But it hasn’t.

I thought that my parents would start speaking to me about more important things on our walks. About vital things. I thought we would move on from houses and flowers and birds.

But we haven’t.

It’s just gotten worse.

Walking a few blocks with my grandmother is a 20 minute process. Not because she walks slower (my grandmother can keep up with the best of us) but because she looks at everything.

She absorbs everything. She sees everything.

She points out the houses and the flowers and the birds (look how beautiful! Aren’t they beautiful!). And the little girls in dresses (ach, how cute) and the old woman with a hat (there’s a regal old lady!) and the young couple making out on a street corner (look at those lovers over there). And she’ll nudge me to look at the woman in a revealing dress (now, don’t you go dressing like that. Be a good girl).

G-d. It used to frustrate me so much.

But now, I do the same thing.

I try to do the same thing.

I struggle to do the same thing.

To look.

To look at the houses. And the flowers. And the birds.

Because we, in our generation, have a tendency to want to get there. Want to do.

And not only want do do one thing. We want to do everything. We want to be in two places at once. In five.

We want to go out to eat with friends but spend time with our kids but also go to his event but also catch up with her.

And nowadays, with technology, we can.

We can do it all.

We can run back and forth between a wedding and a birthday party without having to change outfits.

We can run back and forth between a wedding and a birthday party without having to leave our homes.

We can text our families when we’re with our friends and our friends when we’re with our families.

And then we never have to choose.

Except… that’s not how life works, is it?

Because we have to choose.

Because I notice when my friends are on their phones while they’re with me. They notice when I’m on my phone while I’m with them.

And we’ve all had that moment where we’ve been distracted and someone has had to tap us on the shoulder and brought us back to the present.

“Hey… life is good here.”

We’re rushing to get our degrees and get our jobs and get our husbands and get our children and get our vacations and get our social events. And get our next big thing.

But where we are? That is also a Big Thing.

We all love the Passing Lane. And the thrill as you run from one activity to another.

But when on a beautiful mountain road, why not just… experience the beauty of the mountain road?

When I get older, I’m going to be one of those parents. Those annoying ones.

One of the ones who slows the car and tells them to look.

Because life is right here.