What is “Slow”, Anyway?

Encountered as we walked quickly across Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia...

“FOR THE CURIOUS…”  read the sign taped to the young woman’s jacket. “I am slow-walking the length of Rittenhouse Square, a distance that, at a normal pace, takes a little over two minutes.  I will begin at the southwest corner and end at the northeast corner, where I will resume “normal” speed. Please join me for any length of time should you so desire.”

My wife and I were out on a Sunday afternoon walk, and suddenly our cadence seemed blisteringly fast.  I tried and managed to keep, er, down with her for only half-a-dozen five-inch strides.  My wife waited ahead, impatiently.   I caught up with her, we waited again for the slow walking young lady.   Another man read the sign, and slowed his pace, but again, for less than a dozen steps.  We watched from a distance as she sloooowly reached the end of the Square, and suddenly shifted back into a regular walk, blending with the crowd.

I had no idea that we’d encounter this, but what a message!–how long should things take?  Are we moving too fast? What do we miss as we speed-walk through Rittenhouse Square, or “process words” at incredible velocity?  I babbled on about this little bit of performance art for the next few blocks as if I’d been hit by lightning, or maybe espresso. My wife wasn’t so sure, and we completed our rounds at our usual pace. But tomorrow, I may try stepping down from, say 45 rpm to a long-playing 33 & 1/3… and see what happens.



Filed under manual typewriter

3 responses to “What is “Slow”, Anyway?

  1. I think we’d all like to think that we’d be able to do the whole “slow walk” thing, that we’d have the patience to just take a little less velocity in stride (sorry). In practice, however, there is more than a little dedication involved, and patience.

  2. It takes constant practice to “slow down”, meaning to do enjoy each activity or creative endeavor. I tend to move a little slower than most people my age (30) because I have learned that I enjoy things more. I have to constantly remember this, though, as I tend to fall back into habits of getting from one place to another or accomplishing each task at a rush paced. I don’t like doing that.

    I enjoy the reference to turntable speeds. One of my loves -along with using typewriters- is listening to music on vinyl. Of course, most older music can be found on vinyl but more and more contemporary artists are issuing vinyl. There is no music format in the world that sounds as good as vinyl (in my opinion, of course).

    • Of course, context is important; when I was in 4th or 5th grade, I had a bout of self-awareness and also sort of liked one of my teachers.

      I decided to express the titanic pain (or maybe peevishness is a better word) I was suffering by moving slowly, like a tragic hero–especially when called to the blackboard or otherwise traveling about the classroom.

      The teacher’s response to this was to publicly dub me “Old Man McGettigan”. I abandoned that particular persona after an agonizing few days.

      It was not my last dubious attempt to re-invent my self. But we should maybe talk about coming home at age 12 after smoking a cigar, then chewing Sen-Sen in a hopeless attempt to cover the stench (which made me come off like a miniature racetrack habitue) some other time!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s