Monday, March 16, 2009

When gas prices were first starting to skyrocket a year or two ago, I learned to slow down. Instead of 75 mph and above on the interstate I incrementally kept slowing down until I reached 55. And now, even though prices have dropped, I still stay between 55 and 65, except when I’m in danger of creating a traffic jam—and that almost never happens. This slowing down has taught me many things.

One thing it taught me is that speed is not healthy, not for me at least. And an arbitrarily set speed limit is not necessarily going to be a speed that’s right for me. I’ve noticed now that I go slower, that driving is rarely stressful anymore, as long as the weather’s fine. Icy roads or whiteouts are a different story, but most trips are very peaceful. When I do have to speed up for some reason, I notice how quickly my stress level rises and I realized that, when I used to drive fast, that was how I always felt. It was such an ever-present state back then that I could hardly notice it. But its absence is very noticeable, and very much relished. Seventy-five or eight-five was just way too fast for me.

When we move from place to place we move through shifting energies. I’ve been learning for the past few years just how sensitive I am to those energies and how important it is for me to acclimate to the energy of a new place. The latest piece of the puzzle is that I can’t move too quickly from place to place or my body can’t keep up with the shifting energies. Even fifty-five I feel is too fast, but I think I would get pulled over by the cops if I went any slower. It’s the best I can do. My goal, once Collin’s grown, is not to need to travel fast or far very often. When I move, I want to move at a human pace. To be present, I need to arrive with each footfall. I need to have my feet on the ground, to be supported by the earth, and to breathe in the local atmosphere. Moving so fast, as we do in this age, feels like an act of sacrilege. It disregards the earth and the skies and ourselves and our place in creation.

I need to take The Spell of the Sensuous back out of the library again because there was a place where Abrams talked about how various tribes placed knowledge in the landscape—what we would today call a mnemonic device, but which I feel is far more significant. It gets back to my idea that the land is our brain (more than brain, really--soul?). There was one story he told--I can’t remember it well--but the gist was he was traveling with an indigenous man who was telling stories connected with the landscape. He was behaving oddly it seemed, because he was talking unnaturally fast. Eventually they realized the stories were meant to be told at a walking pace as they passed the particular landmarks, but they were traveling in a truck going over 25. Once they realized this, they slowed down to a crawl and the man was able to slow down his storytelling.

There is knowledge held in the land that we will never have access to as long as we’re just quickly skimming over the surface.

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