Slowness

photo by pie4dan (thank you!)

photo by pie4dan (thank you!)

Before I went car-free, I would run out the door at a moment’s notice. I would cram work, lunches, doctor’s visits, and errands into a day without elbow room, and if traffic threw a speed bump in my plans, I’d go into panic mode, driving more and more erratically (changing lanes, speeding through side streets), trying to get there faster and faster.

In a car-centered culture, we expect to get from place to place as quickly as is possible. We’ll speed, change lanes, and honk horns to do it. When I first started making the switch to being car-free, this expectation of speed was the first thing that had to go. Going car-free didn’t slow my schedule to a walk in the park, but I did start to cultivate a new appreciation for slowness.

Bus riding is all about slowness — not because the bus is so slow (although it can be) but because riding a bus is about waiting. You get to the bus stop and wait for the bus. You get on the bus and wait for your stop. Even if you’re making good time, the rhythm is slow.  You might look out the window and notice your surroundings. You might read a book. You might doze off. The bus gives you a chance to slow yourself, to create space in your day. Bicycling can slow you down too. Even when I’m in a hurry on my bike, I see more than I would in a car. I see the river. I see the people I pass. I feel the wind.

Long before I became car-free, I read about something called the “Slow Movement,” the idea that slowing down can help us enjoy life more. There are people working toward slow food (the antithesis of fast food), slow travel, even slow cities. I always thought the movement seemed exciting, although tough to tackle. Slowing down travel is, I think, a pretty good start.

1 Comment

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One response to “Slowness

  1. sarah

    Kathryn, your blog is fantastic! I’m really enjoying reading about you experiences going car-free. It sounds like it’s been an amazing change, and I admire you so much because I know it hasn’t always been easy and convenient! I’m so glad that it has simplified your life in so many ways. I know how much effort and love you put into teaching and tutoring and mentoring, and how overwhelming it can be, and it’s lovely to see that you have the opportunity to slow down and smell the roses and see the river and feel the wind. I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

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