Yesterday was the first day in awhile where I was really alone. I’ve been so caught up in moving, I’ve barely had a minute to think about free time. But, my roommate (and best friend) Sally just left town for 8 days. I’m finally settled at work and, with my social life in its current spartan state, I realized last night that the next 8 days would be a lot of just… me.
So, I biked home after work. Read some John Seymour. Ate some spaghetti. Watched people from my front deck perch. Then I thought, “Hell, let’s see the world.” So I tied on my shoes and started walking.
My city is incredible, for those of you who don’t know. The picture above is just one of the hundreds of hidden graffiti artscapes dotting the buildings around town. I have driven by this building a hundred times. But it was only when I walked past that I actually noticed the art.
My noticing and the art’s subsequent effect on my life were only possible because of my pace.
Lately, I’ve become acutely aware of the pace of my actions. I think it comes as a result of my zen studies, my commuting to work by bike, and my Friday farming. I also started working for a nonprofit whose focus is natural lands. The slowness is almost overwhelming when you begin to spend time in nature.
Nonetheless, this isn’t the first time I’ve appreciated the benefits of a slower pace. Each morning that I bike to work, I bump into people. I actually am going slow enough to smile at my neighbors, wish them a “good morning.” (Can you imagine that in place of the anger you feel at morning traffic?) Also, when I visited Sally in London last year, I had to entertain myself while she was in class all day. So I spent 10 days walking London. It is one of my favorite trips to date, a bizarre fact considering I was alone for most of it.
But the pace was exactly right.
This morning I read a small part of Everyday Zen that focuses on relationships. Charlotte Joko Beck states,
Every moment of our life is relationship. There is nothing except relationship. At this moment my relationship is to the rug, to the room, to my own body, to the sound of my voice. There is nothing except my being in relationship at each second…. [T]here is nothing but being in a relationship to whatever is happening in each moment.
When I read that section this morning, I thought about my relationship to my neighborhood, to that piece of graffiti, to the larger city.
The nature of my relationship to anyone or anything is in large part determined by the pace of the interaction.
I drove by the piece of graffiti a hundred times and never saw it. But when I slowed my pace — when I walked — I discovered art, beauty,… meaning.
How much meaning are we rushing past? How are our relationships to the spaces around us, the people around us, shortchanged because we are too busy to slow down?
This post is at the heart of The Slowing’s purpose.
Slow yourself. Literally. Physically slow your pace.
Your relationships will thank you.