I was watching a TV show today where a boyfriend and girlfriend were heading off to work.  She was gathering her possessions for the commute, at a speed that wasn’t to his liking: “Hey, slowpoke!  Let’s go.”  They weren’t late.  He just wanted to go faster.

I paused and “Hmm”ed.  Do we really need to be in such a hurry?  What’s true is thatdon’t want to be in such a hurry.  Communing with my friend Google, I discovered descriptions of the word … all of which have a negative connotation:

An unnecessarily slow person
Lagging behind, slowing everyone down
Doing something too slowly
Slow as molasses
At a snail’s pace
At a tortoise-like pace
Laggard, dawdler, dallier, slug

Me, I like verbs that take their time, such as “linger”.  The word seems to stretch out time, which feels like a fine idea.  Who needs a crumpled-up, squeezed-together anything?  How about some room to breathe?  I’m also partial to “meander”.  It’s all well and good that the shortest distance between A and B is a straight line but the freeway is far less fun than a winding country road.

I’ve gone to several meditation retreats at a Buddhist centre in Massachusetts.  Before my first trip, I found out that I could drive there from Southern Ontario in less than nine hours.  Sure, that’s a long day behind the wheel but look at the time I’d save!  Take one Canadian superhighway and then transfer to a humongous US one at Buffalo, New York.  Piece of cake.

I said no to such nonsense – two days will be ticketyboo for this fellow.  (I don’t know where the word came from.  Mom loved it.)  And so I got to experience the cutesy little towns of upstate New York, a sweet overnight in Utica, NY, and the green-to-the-top grandeur of the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts.  Happy is the man who goes slow.

There were so many hills in eastern New York that the 90 mph speed limit was a fantasy.  I didn’t care.  Hardly any driver did.  We moseyed along, which is a another fine verb for your perusal.

I’m a slowpoke.  It rolls off the tongue really well.

Behind The Bus

Wharncliffe Road is in London, Ontario.  It’s a busy four-lane street with no left turn lanes for a stretch of eight blocks or so.  Many years ago, I sold life insurance and was on Wharncliffe every working day.  After getting stuck several times behind cars that were turning left, I created a rule: “Stay in the right lane.”  It worked pretty well, except for the occasional bus making its stops.  Being an upwardly mobile young businessman, I learned how to zip back and forth to avoid all pausing vehicles.

I became a driven (so to speak) salesman, looking for every advantage on the road and elsewhere.  No wonder I needed medication for high blood pressure.  Go, go, go!  Be better.  Push.

But is this really a wise way to lead a life?  I’d say not.  Today I experimented with another choice.  I was on Wharncliffe, naturally in the right lane.  Up ahead I spied a bus and my hands contracted on the wheel.  My index finger lurked over the left turn signal.  Somewhere inside, though, there was a quiet “No”, and my digit returned to the wheel.  The bus was slowing, with its right turn signal on.  I nestled in behind and came to a stop.  My lips were pursed, protesting such unusual behaviour.  Isn’t faster the way to go?  “No” again.  I scanned the sidewalk for the number of bus boarders.  “No” once more.

Mr. or Miss Bus Driver pulled away from the curb and we were off again … at a sedate pace.  There were no cars coming up in the left lane.  I could easily have moved over but I chose not to.  Slow as it goes.  No tailgating either.  And then we were coming to a stop again.  This time my heart was pure and calm.  We’ll get there when we get there.

And so our journey together unrolled until I turned off on Duchess Avenue.  Bye, you calm bus.  Hello, you calm Bruce.  Nice.