Poet W.S Merwin, “The idea is that the faster you do it, the more you accomplish. But that’s not true. The faster you do it, the more you are expected to provide and so the speed becomes a kind of slavery.” (Catherine Richardson, Merwin Interview, Princeton Alumnae Weekly)
Last weekend I attended a conference in New Orleans and spent some time doing research in the hotel room. High speed was available for $24 dollars/3 days but the regular service was perfectly quick. It made me think about how tempting it can be to go for the faster option even if it only saves a couple of minutes. Why?
Well, super-busy people may make excellent use of extra minutes, but perhaps it is also about maintaining an inner rush. If we are hyper alert to the ever-faster option, our adrenaline keeps pumping. It is as if there is a ubiquitous addiction to quickness in our culture. Taking it slow might make you feel disconnected, bereft, idle, anxious or as if you are missing out.
During this trip, I recalled how in med school (Alton and I trained in New Orleans and lived there from 1985-1994) I spent delightful afternoons walking from Tulane to the French Quarter, drinking café-au-lait and browsing Decatur Street. This time as I walked down Decatur, I answered messages on my smart phone. It seemed a strange idea to have once walked without accomplishing anything.