At the end of last year I bought a bike. I wanted to spend less time in the car and more time out and about in the course of a day. Eight months later I couldn't be happier about the change. I am grateful not to circle endlessly for the ever-elusive parking spot when meeting someone downtown. I enjoy getting from points A to B without the distraction of a radio or phone. I appreciate moving on my schedule rather than being subject to traffic delays or dependent on the whims of a metro conductor. But more than anything, I have discovered that I love being slow!
When commuting by foot or car, I do everything I can to reach my destination as quickly as possible. I am constantly looking for the most direct route and evaluating whether traffic or other considerations merit a detour. When reliant on public transportation, I find myself bemoaning every pause or extended stop. I have somewhere to be people - let's move!
But when on my bike - whether because of the physical effort required to navigate hills, traffic, and fellow riders - or hesitation brought about by concern for the threats posed by other, bigger forms of transportation, I am content to move slowly.
When I say "slow," I don't mean I am not fast. I don't mean I keep a moderate pace. I mean S.L.O.W. On any given ride, I am routinely passed by fellow bikers of all ages and abilities. On occasion, I am even eclipsed by a runner. And for once in my life, I don't mind being last.
My lack of physical speed has caused a shift in perspective. While creeping up hills, I began to notice the subtle transformation of the flowers and trees as Spring turned to Summer. On particularly lovely afternoons, I found myself making an extra trip around the block to enjoy the breeze and the newfound feeling of lightness and ease. And rather than relying on a steady soundtrack of NPR programming to distract me from the frustrations of traffic and track work delays, I can leave the headphones at home and tune in to the early stirrings of the city in the pre-dawn hours, or the purposeful rhythms of the rush hour commute.
I am enjoying this process of experiencing familiar surroundings in a new, more mindful way and eager to explore how else I can reduce the speed of my daily life.
What better time than the heat of summer to allow yourself to slow down? Can you (literally) stop and smell the flowers this month?