Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – May 15, 2004
Moving Too Fast
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – May 15, 2004 – Most of us move at such a fast pace that we’re not even aware of what’s going on around us. I was thinking about this today as I drove out to the west end of the city to do an open house for a client. The Lakeshore eastbound was busier than normal for a Saturday, but my drive to the west was unhurried and very pleasant.
I stopped for a traffic light and was waiting for it to change when a guy in a Toyota S.U.V. going east, careened across three lanes of traffic, climbed up on the median, crashed back down onto the road on my side and then roared off in westbound traffic. Other drivers were blasting their horns at him, but he just ignored them all and did what he jolly well wanted to do. I shook my head at his idiocy and wondered what could possibly have been so important that he would endanger himself, and have so little regard for the safety of other motorists.
Short of a pregnant wife writhing in pain in the back seat and screaming for a doctor, I decided nothing. He was simply in a hurry, impatient with the traffic tie-up and endowed with a arrogant sense of entitlement. His toy was bigger than the toys of other drivers so he simply made a decision to break every traffic law in the book, knowing he would get away with it, and he did. There was no member of Toronto’s illustrious constabulary in evidence, so he just drove off into the sunset (even though it was still early afternoon).
I continued my unhurried drive to my destination and arrived without incident, but as drove, I thought about the frenetic pace we move at in a city the size of Toronto. Most days are about meetings, schedules, errands, driving, dropping people off, then picking others up, getting to one place in time to turn around and head for another.
Nothing is casual – everything is hurried. After I finished my afternoon business commitment, I drove home by a different route. I passed under the bridge, where just this week a cyclist was killed during rush hour. There was a makeshift memorial where people had left flowers. Perhaps that bicyclist would still be alive if everyone wasn’t in such a blasted hurry.
It took me longer than usual to get home – perhaps by fifteen minutes. I drove in the slow lane and let the traffic fly past me. I had to wait for a couple of extra traffic lights. That was all. Sometimes I have moments of sublime clarity and my drive today was one of those. I’m usually one of those tearing along like a fiend, and were it not so blatantly against the law, I might have been a median climber myself on occasion.
But to what end? Most of us don’t remember what we had for breakfast this morning, let alone what we chatted with a friend about over lunch. We’re on over-load, running at a pace that is conducive to ill-health, stress and unhappiness. If I saw one shred of evidence that my hectic pace was good for me, I might crank it up a notch.
However, I know in my heart that my soul is telling me to slow down, to have coffee with friends more often, to sit with my pets in the sunshine, to enjoy my home, to look after my health and to let the chips fall where they may. There will always be another business dinner, a new client or a meeting to be scheduled. Perhaps I’ll miss a deal or two and I wonder quietly if that will mean the end of my professional life as I know it.
I realize the answer is a resounding “no”. I just got an e-mail from my brother Eric and his wife Dorothy today. There are back in Paris, after their week in Brittany. The picture they sent is sweet and they both look so relaxed and happy.
I need to do that sort of thing – pack up and get away. Take time to slow down and see the everyday wonders that life has to offer. Time, free from commitments and harried schedules, mine and others. Time to do whatever I please. So, I’m going to take a step down from the treadmill – not Howard – but this strict adherence I have to showing up at the salt mines every morning.
So perhaps the Universe put me in traffic today, to witness the curb hopper in action, to send me a message that it could just as easily have been me. If so, I’m paying attention – I got the message.