“Go slowly, there’s not much time.” This saying , which I first heard from my Dharma teacher, confused me for quite a while. On the surface, it seems contradictory — and that’s the place I met it for quite a while. Then, slowly, I began to realize its many layers of meaning. That phrase “there’s not much time” initially seemed to convey the feeling of rushing about, being in a hurry to get someplace else because life is so busy and frantic. It seemed to be focusing on time in a day-to-day sense of the term.
Then as I looked more deeply, it seemed to me that the phrase “there’s not much time” was more existential in scope. It was referring to the brief time we’re allotted on earth. We need to “go slowly” so that we don’t miss important and essential things on life’s journey, because that journey is so brief. This seemed to be a satisfying explanation.
Then tonight, the words “go slowly” took on a new meaning and a new kind of urgency. Here’s why: David and I were driving up to Vermont for Alex’s graduation on Saturday. It’s in February — go figure! Not surprisingly, we hit several patches of stormy weather. One minute, we were commenting on how fortunate it was that we hadn’t hit any snow, when boom: the snow hit us! It came slicing across the car completely obscuring our vision. We literally could not separate the narrow road we were traveling from the shoulder. At one point we stopped and put on our blinkers and fiddled with the fog lights. Then we started up again — and boy, were we going slowly!
Now, here’s the thing: When you go slowly, re-a-ll-y s-l-o-w-l-y, you see everything. The life around you seems to slow down as well and reveal itself more completely. I could see tiny blades of grass coated with snow, the ragged edges of the pavement, the place where the side of the road dipped steeply, the uneven layers of snow coating the road. Everything stood out and had equal weight. Could there be a benefit to going slowly with our writing, too? Maybe if we are not chasing after our words and hurrying from one thought to another, we can extract more meaning and value from each moment and each word. “Go slowly, there’s not much time” — what does this mean to you? I’d love to know. Write on.