Thursday, November 3, 2011
Literally, to slow down. I aim for below the speed limit. I try not to accelerate rapidly. I coast toward stop signs and red lights, my foot hovering over the brake until the last possible second. Fellow drivers make delighted gesticulations and try to get very close to the rear end of my car, as if to soak up my aura of peace.
Or something. See, I work as an itinerant SLP. This means I drive around a lot during the work day. I receive healthy hourly compensation, even while driving, but I don't get reimbursed for mileage or gas. Therefore, I have an obvious incentive to drive in a style which prioritizes fuel efficiency over speed. Yes, it makes everyone else on the road crazy, but is it really logical for me to burn my own dollars to make it to the next site a couple of minutes faster?
Only it's really, really, really hard. God, it's hard. To tool along in the slow lane, to lurch, tortoise-like from my starting position: these things require constant -and stern- self-monitoring. I have to stand over myself like a particularly exacting nanny barking "slow down! Slow down! Slow down!"
Ambling, strolling, languishing, lolling: my skills in these areas, if I ever had any, have atrophied. In music, too, it's tough to slow down: every time I hear a recording of myself, my first thought is that I took it too fast. I walk quickly. I book it to work. I wolf down my food. I hop out of bed in the morning and whip through my to-do lists as fast as I can. I even fall asleep quickly, slipping into unconsciousness within ninety seconds of hitting the pillow.
To pull up on my own reins, as I've been struggling to do in the car, is profoundly uncomfortable. It feels like stuffing my throat full of cotton balls, or bathing in mayonnaise. It's like slathering myself in caramel and yanking it off, like drowning in jello. It's probably worth it, but if feels so dreadful it's difficult to tell.
Only occasionally does the world hiccup, loosen. I ease off the gas and the trees flame up, red and orange, quaking in the barest breeze. The radio crooner takes a breath and the horns blaze forth and the fuckyousfuckyous fly and there I am, drifting toward stillness.