A report from the Slow Lane
I’ve been writing the Slow Lane for over five years now, and I’ve nearly forgotten why I began to do this, and what motivated me to call it The Slow Lane in the first place. Now that I’m starting to have a life again I’m remembering. It is too easy to get caught up in going at the pace of cultural life, to be at the mercy of machine-time. I almost forgot that it has been slowing down, one of the conditions imposed upon me by my stroke, that has given me some ability to pause and reflect upon this constantly surprising, unfolding miracle we call life. Going slow has always been what it is all about.
I have been swept up in the changes that have come into my life. Enough so I have to wonder if I am going to be able to hold onto the awareness that has made all of this so valuable to me. I want to. But the question arises, do I have enough of the solitudinal slow life under my belt to hold me? Will I revert? Will I become manic, and filled with fear and anxiety? I hope not. But I know I’m merely human. How can I maintain the perspective that slowing down has conferred to me?
I really don’t know. I’m no different from anybody else in that regard. I have the advantage of knowing and experiencing slowness, and I’m still disabled, so I will go slower, but will I retain the psycho-emotional immunity inside that keeps me slow? I want to keep relishing the hardly moving times when I am stirred by what doesn’t move or change.
Slowing down and being slow is such a counter-cultural thing to do. It’s like being in the world but not of it. I think they call it marching to the beat of a different drum, one that is inside instead of outside. In some ways it’s a radical thing to do. It is definitely anti-economical. It’s like occupying your own time on this earth.
I’m not a radical, in the sense of seeing myself that way. But, I am weird. I don’t much cotton to having outsiders running my show. I prefer slow and easy. I don’t mean simple and non-complex, I mean for my own sake, for the one who brought me to the dance. I like being challenged, just not for challenge’s sake, or for someone’s profit, but because I like to grow. I like my challenges salient to my life. Going slow is one way I can make sure they are. Not only that, but, by going slow, I get to witness something of how Mystery is playing with me.
Witnessing, that is something I don’t want to forget. I don’t mean the kind of witnessing practiced by the proselytizing folks, reporting on what they see, trying to get everyone on the same page of the hymnal, I’m talking about the silent, overwhelmed, incidental witness. The one who just found himself in the middle of a meteor shower of miraculous proportions. I have been introduced by slowness to that place, and I want to always be at home there. Witnessing something mysterious inside isn’t the same as witnessing outside. It requires a steady gaze, one I have a hard time holding if I’m going very fast.
The truth be told, I’m writing the Slow Lane as a kind of ritual, a ritual of slowing down. For a moment, I remember what I so easily forget. Life has delivered me here. I am an emissary of the Great Mystery. I know I am here because I am wanted. I am here, happily engaged in slowing down, so I can best serve what wants to come out of this moment.
I don’t want to forget why I am here. I don’t want to be distracted. Making a living just isn’t the same thing as being alive. I want more of the latter and less of the former. Slowing down has helped me see what I could not see when I was so busy trying to be somebody. Life is here. So am I. This is the moment. Now, how am I going to occupy it?
Slowing down lets me feel that difficult question. I’m sure my desire to hurry up is related to just how potent this uncertainty is. I would just as soon address this some other time, when I am more together, older, developed, successful, better loved, enlightened, drunk, or just helpless — anywhere, but here and now. Slowing down, the invisible becomes more palpable, life becomes more real, and calls out more personally.
What I love most about going slow is the great surprise of discovering that something of me answers. I rise, out of what seems like nowhere, I get heartened. Something stirs in me, like the tide, an inexorable force gathers. I am in some kind of sync with what is calling. I can feel it. I am awakened. The moment wants just what I am. I haven’t prepared at all, I’m being swept into a come-as-you-are-party and apparently how I am is just perfect for the party. This life I’ve been living, prepared me to be me, and that seems to be just what is wanted right now. Imagine that!
Slowing down has allowed me to see beyond my fears, anxieties and doubts about myself to the place where Mystery is working turning it all into the Great Flow.
So, I say slowly to you “slow down.”