Discover Prompts: Day 16: Slow

Hello. This is April 23, Shakespeare’s Birth and Death days. I’m still a bit behind on Discover Prompts for April, but I’ll be caught up tomorrow. Root canals have a way of interrupting the daily flow. I make no excuses. Just the facts.

All my life, I’ve been a fast mover. I was very skinny most of my life, a bean pole. I had a high metabolism. I walked fast, faster than most. I hiked even faster. People in my family couldn’t really keep up with me, nor did they try. I jiggled my legs, always bouncing them on the balls of my feet, nervously. But I wasn’t nervous and I didn’t have ADHD or anything like that. I was on the go.

Recently, on hikes in the woods during this pandemic with the girlfriend and my Dachshund, Herman, I’ve noticed that I’ve lost a step. I go at it more slowly than ever. I’ve lost a step. But I prefer to go slow now. I can crank up the speed if need be, but I miss so much. My glasses fog up, my vision blurs, as if I’m in a race car.

When I slow, I can see things more clearly. I can see the trees sway and stop to listen to them creak. I can quiet my footsteps to listen to a bird twitter in the distance. I can catch a critter in the undergrowth. The other day I saw chipmunks playing in the dead leaves, coming out for spring.

The gf and I are matched well as far as speed, though she walks faster than I do. I’ve not met many people who do. She’s also a great deal younger so she doesn’t quite have that “stop and smell the roses” perspective that I’m developing. For her, there will be time.

Before our walk on the trails of Westwoods in Guilford the other day, we stepped across the road to look at the Canadian geese lying in the plowed fields along Bishops Pond, we saw a turtle crossing the road. It was about the size of my hand with a smooth black shell, yellow stripes on its neck and some red dots on its head. As we approached to take a picture, it slowed and pulled into its shell a bit and then stopped. It was almost across the road. We pulled back and held our breaths, cheering for it under our breaths to move forward to get off the roadway so as not to get hit by a car. By our measures, it was a slow-mover. By its own, it was probably racing across the road. I don’t think of turtles as especially fast, but then, I’m not a turtle myself.

Most days now I feel as if I’m racing toward the finish line. The days go by fast, and I don’t get enough done. That’s what comes of starting late. By night, I have done work. Some of it may last. Others will not. As always, it’s all work in progress. And yet, at some point, I have to call it done. The slow accretion of details, of form and substance, has to be called done so I can move on to the next task. There is still so much to do.

Right now, I’ll take it slow, pace myself, see the details I missed before, the red dots on a turtle’s head, the alertness of the geese in the field, their invisible radius always turned on, the striped chipmunks playing tag in the dead leaves. The sprint for the finish lay yet ahead.

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