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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk - Slowly

By Gloria who edits the literary blog, BonzerPlus

“Slow” was a virtue parents used to teach their children. My dad was always telling me to slow down: I moved around the house too fast; I ate too fast; worst of all, I talked too fast.

In the evening he would sink into his overstuffed chair, pick up the newspaper, fold it deliberately so the front page was on top, and settle in without a rustle for a long, slow read. I would take this as my signal to talk and since I had a lot to say, I talked fast.

“Slow down, child,” he sighed, looking over his glasses, chin on his chest. When my words kept bursting like popcorn out of a kettle, he would slowly remove his glasses and slowly but more energetically repeat, “For God's sake, child, slow down.”

In those days, slow was slower than it is today. No one could or would, so they said, run a mile in less than four minutes. Cars moved slowly enough that even a child could read Burma Shave signs on the side of the road, and on a hot day when I opened my grandmother's cooler to finger the ice, the drips were a long time coming.

Slowing down is something parents don't emphasize today; families don't have time to be slow. Parents keep two vehicles humming: to and from school (the bus is too slow); to and from lessons, of one thing or another; to and from practices, for one sport or another. Since doctors now preach that hurrying is bad for our health, is seems peculiar that the pleasure of slowing down is one of the few advantages we don't choose to give our children.

I recently read (slowly, of course, my dad did not approve of speed reading) that talking fast is also a health hazard, often associated with the Type A personality - that dreaded powder keg of tension and stress.

A group of heart patients were asked to read the United States Constitution out loud, twice, once quickly and once slowly. When they read quickly their blood pressures climbed and their hearts beat faster than when they slowed their reading down. The final word is not in, but it looks like my dad was right to make me slow down, although he was not concerned for my health. He wanted to hear what I said, and read the paper at the same time.

My dad did not push slow food the way he did slow talking, probably because we did not know what fast food was. The only eating out we were used to was an occasional Sunday stop at the Triple X in south Seattle. You didn't have to get out of your car, but it wasn't really fast food. My dad rolled down his window, a pert waitress on roller skates took our order and skated it back on a tray which hooked over the open window. Sometime it took a long time to get served, but the food was never defined by its speed. It was a Sunday afternoon treat, fast or slow.

“Slow food” as defined by some, means anything that takes so long to eat it is calorically self-limiting. Take nuts. While the average snacker devours twenty cashews a minute, she downs only eight pistachio nuts because of the time it takes to break open the shells: pistachio is a slow food – along with celery, artichokes, barbecued ribs, steamed clams - and pomegranates, too. After an experience eating a meatball sub sandwich while driving on the freeway during rush hour, I would certainly add that to my list. Slow - and dangerous, as well.

Speaking of slow chewing, a new chewing gum called Brain Gum is supposed to improve our memories and help us concentrate. To be effective, a person should start out chewing two pieces for a half an hour three times a day. Along with an ample assortment of slow food, this could keep the health conscious chewing from morning to night.

I doubt if my dad would have tried it. It is rather expensive and I know he would not have shared it with me. He didn't like me to have gum even if was free. I chewed too fast. Besides, he would have said that forgetting is just very slow thinking - which just might be the next health fad, along with slow food and slow talking. I can hear him mumbling now: “For God's sakes child, slow down. You're thinking too fast.”

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


My mom used to say that to me, and I now do it to my kids and their kids. We should all slow down, I think.

Gloria - This was a great memory of your father. Also, you brought back things from my past - Burma Shave signs, drive-in car hops, and Roger Bannister's 4 minute mile.

BUT, your 'slow down' advice does not apply to everyone - especially me. I've spent most of my life in the slow lane. Now I need to speed up!

When I turned 70 a year ago, I was infuriated. I pledged to act and feel younger than my age until I cease to exist. I took up yoga, watercolor painting, and creative writing. Last summer, I even built a boat in a bottle!

In order to delay dementia, I am learning to read and speak Italian. The last thing I need or want is to practice slower thinking!

Gloria, I think you've made me see the answer to the questions I've asked many times. I'm so busy in retirement, how did I ever get anything done while I was working?

In my working and child rearing years, I moved at the pace my life and lifestyle dictated. There was a clock taskmaster then. I was also younger and more energetic.

These days I control the clock more and I've slowed down. There's always a chore to be done, no matter at what pace I move.

There is a time for everything, but not time for everything. lol I think I'll put that on a T-Shirt.

Copyrights Reserved / Herm

One last thing. I'm always the last one at the dinner table because I chew long and slow. Happy Thanksgiving!

Gloria -- what a great message for Thanksgiving day -- sensitively curated, of course, by Ronni.

Giving thanks is an act of reflection, which requires moderation of pace if not the suspension of time all together. That's a good thing to do from time to time,. But we forgot that as we tolerated over several generations the dissolution of laws that set aside Sundays for families and other human scale purposes in favor of feeding the outsized appetite of business enterprise. Proponents of commercializing life 24/7 rationalized its alleged merit in the name of providing customers greater convenience. But all along, we really knew it was about having more time to sell more stuff. Full time buying and consuming all around us doesn't encourage us to slow down to smell and give thanks to the roses.

Hey, I'm a capitalist, with a strong tilt toward libertarian ideas, but enough is enough. We have become virtual robotic subjects of a commercial tyranny which would have micro billboards pasted to the inside of our eyelids if possible.

You should also know that I am a marketer by profession. And you should further know that I'm ashamed that my profession has done so much to push us into a state where our lives move so fast we don't have time to pause and give deep thanks for all we have.

I believe the current global financial crisis will ultimately prove to have been a good thing. It is like a giant dose of purgative necessary to cleanse our spirits of the unhealthy residue of excessive self-indulgence.

So, thank you Gloria for urging us to to slow down. Turkey's in the oven, sides are under control -- think I'll take a nap, after giving thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving

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