The Pace That Stills
Norman Vincent Peale

  
Coming out of a reception at a New York City hotel, my wife, Ruth, and I found it was raining hard, a soaking downpour.  We tried in vain to get a taxi, and considered taking a bus, but would have been drenched getting to it.  Then I remembered a similar situation when I had practiced intensive positive thinking and immediately a taxi had pulled up.  So I started thinking positively, hoping the same thing would happen again.

Along came an old horse-drawn hansom cab, one of those that take tourists around the Central Park area.  The driver, perched on the high outside seat of this ancient conveyance, had on a great sou'wester.  The rain was coursing down it in rivulets and dropping from his rubber hat.

I turned to Ruth and said, "We've been here twenty-five minutes waiting for a taxi.  What do you say we take this carriage?"

"Oh, yes, let's," she said, getting in.

The driver tucked us in with a big robe.  We started off.  The windows of the old vehicle rattled.  They were the kind of windows that stubbornly drop down when you try to pull them up shut.

Noting the tufted upholstery, I remembered admiringly, "I haven't been in one of these things since I was a boy."  But moments later I continued.  "This old hack will never get us home.  Think of it, all the way to 84th Street at this pace!"

However, we gradually adjusted to the pace.  We plodded along slowly to the pleasant clop-clop-clop of the horse's hoofs through the rainy streets.  Taxis and cars going the same way sped past us.

We proceeded north on Park Avenue.  Every so often the horse would trot for a few minutes, then walk slowly.  As I sat back in the ancient vehicle, rain beating against the window, a feeling of relaxation came over me.

It was the slowest trip to 84th Street I have ever made, but by all odds, the most pleasant.  You couldn't hurry, so all sense of haste was laid aside.

At last we arrived.  As I paid the man, I said, "I've sure enjoyed the ride.  How old is this hack?"

"It's a real antique," he answered cheerfully.  "Older than I am.  But," he added, "you had a leisurely, slow, unhurried drive, didn't you?"

"It was indeed all that!" I said.  "I never knew one could be so relaxed in New York traffic."

We live in a tense, hard-driving generation, thinking we just have to get there in a hurry.  Why, I'll never know.  And it's wonderful what a little slowing down can do.

We don't need a horse-drawn carriage to slow the pace; there are other ways.  The trick is to break our rhythm.  One way might be to try walking to Grandma's house with the family, instead of taking the car.  Or try making a real homemade cake, instead of using a "mix."  We might take time to go through the family photo album slowly, reliving the pleasant moments; or take the long way to the store one day, stopping at points of interest, looking for things we never particularly noticed before.

Breaking the pattern of rush, rush, rush can restore our bodies and our minds and can bring an oasis of healing calm in the midst of stress.
 

more on slowing down

  


 
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By slowing down and relishing the unfolding of every experience, you
arenít choosing to be less accomplished or productive than others.
Youíre choosing to be accomplished and productive in ways they may
not even understand. Youíre choosing to change whatís within your
own heart and mind, thereby becoming a part of the solution rather
than a part of the problem.  By no longer rushing through, youíre choosing
to stop focusing so much of your energy on the wanting and yearning,
the wishing it was done, the frustration with what hasnít happened yet; and
to make, instead, the most of every experience as it unfolds at its own pace.

Nea Justice

   

  

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And so taking the long way home through the market I slow my pace
down. It doesn't come naturally. My legs are programmed to trot
briskly and my arms to pump up and down like pistons, but I force
myself to stroll past the stalls and pavement cafes. To enjoy just
being somewhere, rather than rushing from somewhere, to somewhere.
Inhaling deep lungfuls of air, instead of my usual shallow breaths. I
take a moment to just stop and look around me. And smile to myself.

For the first time in a long time, I can, quite literally, smell the coffee.

Alexandra Potter
The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather

  

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