Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Over the last year, I have been slowing down. I’m not entirely sure why this is. When it comes to driving, I am very slow. I used to drive like a normal person, but now I have trouble holding the speed limit on the highway. At night, my vision is terrible, and at all times, I hate going fast down curvy roads. I find it annoying because it limits my travel. I don’t like driving on highways that are 2 lanes with lots of trucks. I feel like I’m going to get run over one of these days.

The speed problem may have started with my car. Last year it stopped braking properly, but even now with new brakes (and having driven a brand-new rental car in the last year), I’m still phobic. I think of Steve Gonsalves on Ghost Hunters, and his fear of flying. As he said on the Leap Castle episode, he used to fly quite often, but then he was on a bad flight home from a cousin’s wedding in California, and he hasn’t been able to fly since. He’s certain that he will die if he gets on a plane, and no attempts at therapy have helped. My situation seems like it might be similar.

I have friends who think the problem may be physiological—perhaps a deteriorating inner ear condition. This isn’t out of the question, as I haven’t been able to go on any kind of ride that goes fast since I entered my thirties. I can’t even swing on a swing. I don’t like height, but I always liked speed. Now that kind of speed makes me physically ill. I’m sure my heights phobia is part of the speed thing, as I’m pretty good gathering speed uphill, but not going downhill.

All of my self-analyzing of this change has made me wonder if I’m being critical of myself for just being careful. I never worry about speed traps, because I’m always doing the speed limit or less. I’m very conscious of the road, and animals that might be crossing it, even more so than before. But I’m ambivalent. People have told me that there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the speed limit in the slow lane. But I feel this pressure to go faster.

The Northeast is certainly a place known for speed. Walking through New York City is an experience like no other in the world, except maybe the London Underground at rush hour, and it still doesn’t quite compare. You have to move fast or you’re going to get run over, and this is on foot, not in a vehicle.

Looking deeper, I feel pretty certain that this is one of my inherent life process problems—I always feel I need to be producing more, doing more, wasting less time, keeping things moving. Patience is not one of my virtues a lot of the time. But when you’re slowed down by things out of your control time and time again, it may change your perspective. There’s really no need to be “in a hurry to go nowhere”.

Speed has a lot to do with time, and our conception of it. When you are bored, time seems to move very slowly. But when you are enjoying yourself, time may move much more quickly. The period of time before a traumatic event—the moments before a car accident when you know it will happen, for instance—seems to have a momentary slow down in time. When someone is depressed, the apparent slow down in time allows the person to look at their situation with more clarity.

“Stop and think” is something people don’t do a lot of in a world where everything is moving fast, especially with respect to news and other information. There is far too much, we use shortcuts, filters—and we miss a whole lot. Of course, we also may not adequately keep up without some kind of filters. It’s a balancing act.

Slowing down may represent a shifting in priorities. There’s less of a sense of trying to accomplish a lot, to run “the rat race”. There’s more of an emphasis on enjoying the here and now. So—it is possible that my slowing down is not a liability; it may just be a supplanting of the world’s priorities and expectations for my own.

I still wish I could do 75 or 80 in the fast lane, though.

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