Hey! Slow Down!

(c) Darren Thompson

The other day, while traversing a zebra crossing at a leisurely pace, a car almost ran over me.

‘Come on boyo, hurry up, will you? This isn’t a park!’ shouted the driver.

Indeed! My foot had barely touched the pavement when the car vroom-vroomed, rushing past me at great speed, brushing my back ever so slightly with its rearview mirror. Picture me, short and frail as I am, coughing on the pavement in the cloud of exhaust smoke he left behind, watching the hectic rush of cars racing down the boulevard, bemoaning the hastiness of our beloved century.

‘Where are all these people rushing to?’ I wondered, taking off my hat and scratching my head. ‘To death?’

Now similar scenes happen to me almost every week. Lovable young women driving candy-colored cars peer through their windows at me as I cross the zebra, pouting their ruby or pink lips and shouting,

‘Come on! Hurry up!’

Why? Wherefore? To what purpose? Alas, people, we are all dying. We must slow down, we must enjoy every step we make, every breath of air that fills our lungs. We must observe our surroundings, we must pay attention to the details. This is how we can ameliorate our collective indifference, our consumerism and greed, our self-importance.

If there’s a problem with technology – smartphones, tablets, cars, computers, social media, airplanes, and everything else included – is that it’s too fast and only getting faster. I adore my notebook and e-book reader and am thankful to them for the things they let me do, but whenever I use them it’s as if time speeds up and up and up, until it gets out of my control. Then it’s as if technology supplants my awareness.

My awareness of now, of the present moment, becomes dimmer and dimmer, until sometimes I lose it entirely, only to wake up minutes or even hours later with my work done yet somehow unfulfilled, somehow startled, as if time has pulled a fast one on me, cheating of me moments, minutes, hours of awareness that were rightfully mine.

Still, quiting technology is out of the question. As much as I would like to relocate to a remote cottage in the mountains, far away from the technological temptations of our speedy age, I know that at my young age – 23 – the move would be a step back, a cultural regress. I would lose access to knowledge and become narrower in my focus and aspirations. Maybe later, when I am older, I will move to such a cottage (if I will acquire the means). For now I am pleased to announce I will stay here with you.

However, that doesn’t have to mean that people like us, who (I hope) are concerned with deeper things than money, status, and sex, must drown in the technological flood. Even in our bustling cities we can still walk or cycle instead of driving, we can stop playing games on our smartphones in the bus and instead observe the moving pictures in the window, we can cook our own food rather than buy it ready made, we can handwrite a bit every day instead of only typing, we can do everything more slowly, with a greater awareness, to enjoy the little things more and prolong our life so to speak.

Next time I cross the street, I will go slowly. And if perchance some pretty girl in a candy-colored car honks honks and shouts at me to hurry up, I’ll smile at her and slow down even more. If she runs me down, I won’t mind, I really won’t…

Dear pedestrian, do you have any zebra crossing experiences you’d like to share with us?

25 thoughts on “Hey! Slow Down!

  1. When a car would speed past our 1971 stationwagon, my mom used to say, “That one is going to meet his maker!”
    I always thought that was cute.

  2. When I was about 14 years old – many years and much technological progress ago – I stood waiting to cross a street. For ten or 15 minutes. And no one would stop. I felt invisible, like an outcast. I couldn’t believe it.
    Even then, in the time of Hit me Baby One More Time, Napster and Nokia 3210, you could slightly notice society’s downfall accompanied and reinforced by new technologies. We’re all so dependent. I don’t like it.

  3. Haha! This is great…and very true! London’s streets seem to be filled with people running out of time too…Hopefully you don’t get run over…haha. Road rage is a very real thing you know.

  4. Great blog, beautifully written, and I agree with you completely. If you slow down, you can find enjoyment in things that you thought you didnt like before, in assignments and meetings etc.

  5. I despise a lot of technology but being 18 I have grown up with it and people glamorized it so I feel succumbed into the technological advancements of the world. In truth, I’d prefer a simple landline telephone, and my laptop over all kinds of technology.

  6. I do envy you your pick-up techniques, but that one’s never going to work! My only thought would be that when I am brought to meet my Maker and asked to account for my time on Earth, I would be hard put to explain hours spent on pedestrian crossings.

  7. yes I agree, I like to think of myself as a professional Potterologist, Potter

    To potter, to be gently active doing various things in an almost aimless manner.

  8. I love this piece Vincentiu! It speaks to my heart! I have always been the type to stop and look at the unnoticed, haunting, and beautiful things that most people overlook. I guess that romantic side comes through my writing…and yours as well!

    As for crossing experiences, I have had too many to count! I nearly was hit by a car…drivers in the south of Australia do not have a great reputation…

  9. I refuse to hurry for any one. When I’m driving my car, I stick exactly to the speed limit and, if someone wants to overtake me, I pull in and let them do so (I admit to hoping that the traffic cops catch them further along the road!). All this speed and stress. These people are the ones missing out on life. Feel sorry for them. I’ve never penned a haiku, taken a beautiful photograph, or had a meaningful conversation when in a hurry.

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