Slow down, you’re movin’ too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kickin’ down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
-Paul Simon (59th Street Bridge Song)
I ask myself, “when was the last time I felt ‘groovy’?” and I can say honestly that for about half a day yesterday I was groovin’. I’m not sure if I was actually feeling groovy while I was groovin’ but close enough. Whatever the case may be with the groovin’ or the not-groovin’ it’s time to take a breath and to take account. In other words, a time for reflection. Simon’s lyrics are meant as a healthy alternative to the fast paced life that most of us lead. We need time to recharge, to re-create ourselves. It’s akin to looking under the hood to try and figure out where that funny noise is coming from. Sometimes we can pin point the source and sometimes we cannot at first. But we try.
Do you have time during your day, 5 or 10 minutes to stop and reflect on the previous hours up to that point? It is a time for pause to breathe and regain that energy that may have been lost. It is also a great time to take stock of oneself. How am I living this life I have been given up to this point in time, or for the last few hours or so? Do I think that I am an authentic human being? A loving human being? How have I demonstrate it?
The Swiss, you know those guys who gave us great chocolate and corporate tax havens? Well they have this guy on the side of the road dressed up like an angel motioning with his hands for motorists to slow it down, take it down a notch. Maybe we need to duplicate the picture and place it on our computers, in our cars or make it wallet size so we can remember. I am guilty of rushing around for most of my life as if I am afraid to look into my own soul and evaluate how I am living my life and how I am relating to you. How is the quality? What did/didn’t I do to reveal my true self to the other. I believe that in our culture we place an inordinate amount of value on “what people do” as if what they do gives us a total portrait of a person’s worth. It’s easy tactic but misses painting a total picture. It is a backwards approach objectifying an individual not allowing for any other understanding without regards for the person minus behavior. “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a great example for us how to understand the “face” of the enemy. Freddy in 7th grade used to punch me a lot. I labeled him a “bully” thus objectifying him even to this day. Is this a good thing? Probably not. He was a person who inflicted pain on the weak, like me. It’s too hard or it takes too much time and certainly a person like Freddy doesn’t really deserve understanding. Right? Well by doing this I objectify myself by self-righteously separating myself from that human being rejoicing in the fact that I am not him and therefore better. In my “time-out” reflection rigorous honesty is demanded. At the time I really didn’t understand his behavior. I didn’t want to. I felt if I did I was condoning it. That is not the point. I just wished, at the time, that a champion would have come to my rescue and had kicked his ass to Oakland. Never happened. It is true that my behavior in 7th grade did not warrant a pounding unless acute whimpiness is cause for a bop. That’s another issue (he was just asking for it– heard that one before?). It was just too hard at the time to understand a guy like Freddy so that hate and fear did not overcome me. I was too immature back in 7th grade. How could I understand that he and I were equals as humans? I still don’t accept his behavior, but I don’t hate him anymore. I am older now and don’t need to react like I was when I was 12 1/2. Fred may not have been able to change then, but I have the power to change now. I am able to condemn the action, not the individual. I wish this understanding worked all of the time but I have flaws as well to work on. This direction moves me more and more towards the door of forgiveness and I will comment on this issue at a later date. The bottom line now is reflection, slowing down and evaluating, changing what needs to be changed and bolstering the good stuff we are trying to do. If it is good, you will know it.
I guess the pay off for “slowing down” is authenticity. Honest self-reflection doesn’t cost anything and has no serious side-effects. I want to feel “groovy” with one foot in reality and one foot in potential. I think that’s the only way I can stand up straight.
So it goes…