Tag Archives: Rittenhouse Square Philadelphia

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.


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