Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Slow down, you move too fast

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I am now a “VIP” – this was how I was referred to whilst travelling to Birmingham with Virgin Trains. In this case VIP stands for “Visually Impaired Person”.

It can be difficult to think of any significant advantages to having  VIP status. Yes, I enjoy some benefits such as free or discounted travel on public transport, concessions on theatre tickets and paying slightly less income tax etc. However, over and above that, us VIP’s  aren’t exactly awash with discernable upsides to our situation.

However, I would say that, for me there is one significant positive change that has occurred in recent years.

Slowing down.

I have learned to slow down and I love it.

I no longer run for buses or trains, I no longer dart from one shop to another on the high street as I rush to get things done at breakneck speed.

The last time I was foolish enough to try running for a bus I shot out into the road, brushed against the front wing of a metallic green Honda I hadn’t seen and ended up tumbling big time onto the tarmac. Solid cars those Hondas. My trouser leg ended up ripped and my knee was badly grazed in such a way as it hadn’t been since I was a child. Although one difference was that I had no mum to kiss it better when I eventually got home.

I had just come out of the dentists when this befell me, so on the one hand I had a numb mouth along with the knee-trouser injury. It all felt a bit surreal. I finally realised though, that my days of rushing about were over.

I’ve learned that slowing down is OK. By doing so, I see more. Not because my eyesight has improved but because I allow myself the time to look and take things in using what sight I do have. If I miss a bus or train – well, there’s always one not too far behind (most of the time!).

It actually feels liberating.

Part of my inspiration for this lies with Ingrid, my partner. When our two children were barely toddlers she could take up to an hour and a half to walk to our supermarket with them – normally a journey of ten minutes. However, they would walk dead slow and regularly stop and look at the world as they made their way up the road.

She relates that, on one occasion they spent a full hour watching a bug crawling across a paving stone. Mind you, there was a downside – lunch ended up being over an hour late!

On another such trip my daughter insisted on inspecting the exhaust pipe of every single parked car – another slooow excursion..

I find that the almost meditative nature of going slow can be quite healing and stress relieving.  And it’s not just about the visual sense. I often stop when I catch a sound from nature or a child laughing  – I personally find the coo-ing of wood pigeons particularly relaxing. I used to love that sound when I was a child, yet have only rediscovered it since slowing down! Running my fingers along the bark of a tree or feeling a moist leaf can also relieve my stress. All ths is about allowing myself that extra time to do it.

By slowing down, it is necessary to build in margins, especially If I have to get somewhere on time for a work commitment, but getting up that bit earlier isn’t as painful as all that.

Naturally, a big part of me misses the ability to move swiftly and confidently whether on foot or by driving, but I am genuinely glad of the upside and the other kind of liberation it offers – not “having to” rush from place to place.

The beauty of all this that you don’t have to be a VIP to do this – it’s open to anyone. Give it a go, you may like it.

Finally, returning to the topic of those ripped trousers – they were cut down and turned into a natty pair of shorts which I sported that summer. There’s usually an upside!           



4 Responses to “Slow down, you move too fast”

  1. Great stuff Chris what we all need to hear at the beginning of a week and new month – hope your week goes well. I am tempted to say, – “go placidly…”

  2. Hi Chris, sound advice indeed. I have taken Monday off (I’m owed about a week in toil) and intend to take my time doing not very much!

  3. Your blog this week reminds me of a time some years ago when my partner and I were looking to move out of London – it was all too busy, noisy and had no sense of community, something we longed for,

    After travelling round the country in search of a better way of living – staying in intentional communities, working on farms and in organic gardens, we found ourselves forced back into the big city, after a slipped disc. What we noticed, like you in being forced into slowing down, was that the community we yearned for was actually within us. It is about how we relate to the environment in which we live. Why had I never interacted with people in the supermarket? Because I was too busy, running from place to place. The slowing down made me see people where previously I had seen only encumbrances – that’s not a pleasant word to describe a person.

    Now all fully recovered and able to run around again – I don’t. There is too much pleasure to be taken from talking to people on the street or in the queue. I am happy to let someone in front; it gives me more time to communicate with other people.

    So, where you “see more” by going slowly, I hear more and talk more, as well as see more. It has changed my perspective on needing to be out-of-town. In fact, wherever I am, I find a bit of community.

    Thanks Chris for the opportunity to relate my story and remind myself of it. I do forget from time-to-time – in the mad rush to get things done. Let’s do lunch – I’ve got the time.

  4. A lot of that frantic activity is just “wheel-spin” – burns a lot of rubber, but doesn’t take you anywhere.
    Thanks for the reminders – Chris and Michael L

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