…i hit the brakes, even without a car

i’ve only been here for seven days and i already know it.  new york is fast.  people walk fast and the subways are fast.  the taxis drive fast.  the days turn into nights too soon, and the mornings seem to come earlier because the incessant noise that faded for the night only gets louder as the day progresses.  in a city that is constantly moving, it seems that the only way to keep up is to quicken your pace.  apparently i learn fast too, because that’s what i did.  i’ve learned to blend in by walking quickly-even if its in the wrong direction- and by getting in and out of subways swiftly-even if they are headed opposite of where i need to go.  i’ve learned to make up my mind quickly so as not to delay the line of customers behind me, and i’ve learned to say thank you quickly before i miss the opportunity to do so.  to be clear, i don’t necessarily want to blend in so much as i want to avoid disrupting other peoples’ days. i’m not really concerned with fitting in or standing out, what i am trying to do is just go with the flow.


and recently, even when i’m not in a hurry-because i hardly ever really am– i noticed that i often pretended to be anyways.  if you know me at all, you would know this is strange because i take pride in not having to rush around (hence why i usually drive below the speed limit).  but this realization makes me wonder how many other people can afford to slow down, take the time to be polite, or have the ability to help, but choose not to.   in the midst of walking.talking.seeing.thinking fast, i realized just how much i was missing out on.

of course i realize the utility in speed, productivity, and efficiency.  as a past waitress and student, new york isn’t the only time or place where a quick pace and strong multi-tasking skills have been important.  in fact, i feel like i’ve spent my whole life strengthening and developing these skills- and while they have been useful in some ways, they most definitely have not been useful in all ways.



maybe its not about getting to your next destination quickly- or first-, maybe its about how many times you stop to notice the world around you along the way.

because when you are so busy moving you can forget to enjoy being.



today was meaningful because i purposefully and mindfully decided to slow down.  and today was meaningful because that meant i had time to listen to the violinist play his heart out in the subway.  it meant that i had time to let people get on the subway first,  to hold the door open for a stranger, and to take an alternative path.  by slowing down, i saw people’s faces, witnessed acts of kindness, and smiled at passerby’s.  and when i took time to pay attention to the details, i saw how remarkable things truly are.


sometimes i think people use “being in a hurry” as an excuse.  if you are in a hurry you don’t pay much attention to details or signs; your focus is on where you need to be or what you need to do. if you are in a hurry then you probably don’t have time to help and you have even more reason to be easily frustrated or angered. and when you are in a hurry you don’t have the time to notice the homeless man sitting on the side of the steps, with feet so infected and swollen it makes your heart ache.  you don’t have time to be saddened by the fact that people live in worlds so different from yours.  and when you’re in a hurry, it becomes easier to write things off, move on, and forget.



but what if you went slowly?

what would you be able to see?





go slow today.

instead of getting things done, why not try enjoying what you are doing?

why not pay attention to all the things around you?  :)


3 thoughts on “…i hit the brakes, even without a car”

  1. What do you think the man with the swollen feet would think about you taking a piece of him–a bodily piece that is very intimate and also a very partial representation of him–and broadcasting it to the internet without his permission, so you can make a point about how you made your day meaningful? I guess my point is, sometimes it is tempting to commend ourselves for noticing someone else’s pain. But maybe we should take more careful account of the person, not just their pain and not just the way they make us feel or the way their disadvantage helps us find meaning in our own privileged lives.

    1. i appreciate your comment and personal insight on my post and agree with your point on taking a careful account of the person, and “not just the way their disadvantage helps us find meaning in our own privileged lives.” i am also sorry if my intention of this post was unclear; the purpose and message i was trying to get across is about slowing down and taking the time to notice the world around you–even/especially if that includes another person’s suffering. to be clear, my day was not meaningful because i noticed a person’s feet…in fact, i didn’t explicitly state that i was talking about a real/specific person, but rather, i was trying to illustrate my point that by moving too quickly, it becomes easy to ignore all people around you–including those with musical talents in the subways, strangers on the street, and people who are homeless (all of whom i mentioned but did not identify in any way).

      i hope this clears up any confusion…. thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog though! :) i hope all is well

  2. Thanks for writing back! I understood the point, it just read as a real person and I always think it is a fine line to write and talk about people suffering in ways that we don’t fully understand without making it about ourselves rather than them. (I have this problem in my research, all the time, every step of the way.)

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