People have been asking me to slow down my entire life. I think I may have developed the habit of moving at a quick pace during my childhood because my mother, a tall-ish woman, walked fast and I was forced to figure out how to keep up.
Whether I’m out for an exercise walk, or just ambling with a friend (oh wait! I don’t know how to amble) my usual gait is not a relaxed one. Here is where I disclose my petite stature – I clock in at a mere 5’2” (oh wait! Old habits die hard. I’m now measuring a lean and mean 5.’ I guess those two inches were stolen by the same prankster who stole my dopamine.*)
I knew something was wrong when, after an hour’s walk, my legs felt tired. Plus, a colleague noticed that I’d begun to shuffle. And my sister observed that my movements in general had slowed; my reaching for some food at dinner was almost in slow motion, at least relative to my normal, speedy actions.
I used to complain about my mother-in-law, whose tortoise stroll I decried to my then husband as passive-aggressive. She not only told me – frequently – to slow down, she illustrated her desired pace for me, one very d e l i b e r a t e step at a time. Lest I appear insensitive (you’re assuming she was a frail older person, right?), I will tell you that she was a mere sprite of 60 and an avid and energetic folk dancer. I of course returned the favor, stepping up MY pace as much as I could without ending up five blocks ahead of her. See, I am sensitive to others’ needs. Also, a little passive-aggressive.
She could have kept pace with me if she’d so desired. She obviously did not so desire. Instead, she wanted to teach me a lesson, which was essentially “What’s the rush? Slow down and smell the coffee and/or roses.”
And now I have, though not because I’ve suddenly seen the light regarding the merits of a more leisurely existence. This alteration was not my choice; I was dragged into what I’ll call “Slow World” kicking and screaming.
As a short person, I’d occasionally wondered what the world looked like from “up there,” where the tall people resided which, from my low-to-the-ground vantage point, seemed like a different universe. Views that were eye-level to me might be waist-height to a person of elevated stature. They don’t see what I see at all. And I miss out on their view.
And that’s how I felt about ”Slow World.” It was a different universe altogether. Walks that used to take 15 minutes now took 25. Some days, I woke with no symptoms and was able to walk for a full hour. Other times, after walking for ten minutes, my legs felt as if they were transporting twenty pound weights, and I would be forced to end my perambulation. Every day I awoke to a surprise party, not knowing if it would be a PD (Parkinson’s Day) or not. In other words, would I feel a great deal of discomfort, or very little? Walking, and the pace thereof, served as my Parkinson’s barometer of the day.
Which brings me to the subject of Italy, and the slow food movement, introduced there in the 80’s. “Slow food” focuses on local ingredients and taking the care and time to prepare meals in traditional ways. But I think the slow food movement is a metaphor for a way of being in the world, more attentive to the small graces we may encounter daily but usually miss or ignore because we’re too rushed to pay attention.
Italy is one of the top five countries visited by Americans. And let’s face it, Italy wouldn’t be Italy without its “slow food” approach to pretty much everything. We wouldn’t want Italy to be more American, but could we ask America to be just a bit more Italian?
If my mother-in-law were still living, I might suggest we take a stroll. And I’d be right beside her, without frustration or annoyance at her relaxed stride. And by the way, there are probably people who found bothersome or even inconsiderate what I liked to think of as my peppy pace.
So now, a year since my diagnosis, I am an uncomplaining holder of a passport issued by “Slow World.” And it’s okay. Really.
Recommendations. I’ve mentioned these before but it’s been a while and you might have missed them. They are two excellent blogs for people with Parkinson’s and those who care about them:
*Who Stole my Dopamine? Emma has teenagers. Also Parkinson’s. Emma lives in Scotland. Emma is hilarious. Not to be missed: Her A to Z Parkinson’s.
Twitchy Woman This is a fabulous site/blog, covering all things Parkinson, including information about events, support groups, research and more, delivered with authority and humor.
Till next week,
6 thoughts on “Slow down, you move too fast.”
I did not know that you’re taking so many pills for PD.
( you have arranged them, though, in a pretty position)
keep on keep on kayaking!
We walked through many western and southern European cities together in the summer of 1972, and because we I often whizzed past windows full of gorgeous clothes and mouth-watering delicacies with barely a sidelong glance, rather than coming to a full stop to ogle at the exotica, I admit, sometimes it was annoying. On the other hand, from the perspective of an older person who has definitely slowed down herself, I look back and see us racing across the continent and we’re full of unabashed youth and freedom and it’s exhilarating.
Hello Andy and thanks for sharing….i read all of your postings with interest……and keep moving and doing and creating at whatever pace is possible on any given day…thanks…..art c
Thanks, Art. I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog.
All the best to you,
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