a theory of moving slowly…

moving slowly

“Sometimes moving fast and breaking things is how progress gets made. But it’s also how things get broken, and sometimes those things are people.”

Hank Green, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor


Ferris Bueller said, “Life happens pretty fast.” It’s especially true when things are breaking. The Universe never seems to be short of ways to irreparably fuck our shit up, and when it does, it does it quickly.


Catastrophe comes from out of no where and crushes everything we ever called sacred. All of our tireless building goes up in flames in an instant. Reeling amidst the rubble, we hardly know who or where we are. “It all happened so fast,” we say, stunned and in shock from the whiplash of the loss.


It feels like the whole world presses the gas pedal to the floor when it’s fleeing the scene of our crash, but it’s strange how time screeches to a halt when we’re hurt and trying to heal. In the loneliness of stitches and repair, every minute aches on into an eternity waiting for the pain to disappear. We tell ourselves we’ll be alright. Some days we even believe its true, but that’s not really the question that keeps us up at night; our real concern is “when?”


John O’ Donohue says that “In the rhythm of grieving, you learn to gather your given heart back to yourself again.” But, he says that “This sore gathering takes time” and that we “need great patience with [our] slow heart[s].” We are so eager to return to normalcy, so anxious to move past this place of vacant confrontation, this unavoidable presence of absence that, we try to run before we’re ready and we scatter all the half-mended bits of our already broken selves. Sometimes “restraint,” Hank Green says, “is more remarkable than action”.


“Life is so infinitely hard”, Matt Haig explains; “It involves a thousand tasks all at once”, and it comes with the startling realization that we are “a thousand different people, all fleeing away from the centre”. Like a giant jar of marbles shattering in a cascade of rolling chaos across the floor. A living law of motion spilling out into countless spinning tributaries of inertia, force, and action; mass met and increased by a velocity of endless reacting; we are an object that never stays at rest. And, sometimes, what we really need are methods of traveling through stillness.


The human animal is a creature of uncanny resilience, craft, and cunning. We can be broken down to nothing, and we can still manage to regenerate ourselves over and again. But, it happens over long periods that are hard to measure, if they can even be measured at all.


Sometimes we need habits of being unhurried in order to carry our timid hearts. Sometimes gentleness and breathing is the obstinance that most forcefully opposes the dark. Difference and renewal only seem imperceptible. The lengthy and laggard strides of incremental motion creates a keen sensitivity to change. With each iteraterative advance we are altered and aware; adapted and improved. 

We don’t have the privilege of staying down. Helplessness is a luxury we cannot afford. We have to pull ourselves up towards deliverance, whether by our boot straps or by the steadiness of another’s hand. We have to get up. We have to. But, sometimes we have to do it slowly.