I have pedestrian road rage. Nothing makes me more nervous and on edge then walking behind people who walk slowly. Not sure what it is, but my legs have a mind of their own and physically I do not know how to stroll. Yesterday I met a friend on the beach to catch up over a brisk morning walk, and she ended up renting a bicycle to keep up with me. For years my friends have complained about my pace and I am reminded daily to please slow down!
Living in the center of Barcelona can be very convenient on a social and logistical level. But living amidst the masses of tourists and narrow streets, I have to fight the daily urge to drop kick people who slow me down. While they enjoy the flower pots on balconies, wait in line for the Picasso Museum, and kiss on the street corners, I am just trying to get from Point A to Point B. They slow me down. I seem to always be on a mission.
The other day I spent a few hours on the beach, attempting to read my book while every five minutes or so a football whacked me in the head. Enough that I finally looked up to find a bronzed Brazilian man, topless just like me, making up a round of mojitos for the rowdy British crowd hovering closer and closer to my 1×1 square of sand on the man-made, dusty beach of the Barceloneta. After a few friendly nods – “really, it’s ok that your ball game keeps bruising my forehead” – the makeshift bartender came over to introduce himself. I indulged myself – in his mojitos and nothing more, unfortunately – put my top back on and headed my way down the long, crowded boardwalk lining the port of Barcelona, Passeig Joan de Borbo.
Passeig Joan de Borbo is the street that panics me the most. It is the busy street that leads from my house to the beach, so it is somewhat unavoidable. It becomes a video game and I see each human being as some sort of threat or obstacle. I’ve learned to walk with my arms tucked closely to my sides, so as to avoid the inevitable hand-slap from someone walking towards you too closely. It’s painful, especially when there are rings involved. People feel my overbearing presence breathing down on them from behind, and probably think they are getting robbed. They flash me nervous stares as I roll my eyes and push past them. I part the sea with teeth clucks and sometimes I just sing or edge on by. Frankly, I’m rude.
But the other day, after my mojito moment, I caught myself walking home at a calm pace. Slowly. Smiling. Stopping to look at what all the other slow pokes were staring at. Stopping to watch the street musicians. And to have a gelato.
And I got to thinking – Slow down, I’m moving too fast!
Fast legs. Fast walks. Fast dreams. Fast ideas. Fast plans. Fast decisions. Fast actions. Fast fast fast. My whole life is fast. And though I can sometimes be lazy and just sit around staring at my computer for a while, the second I choose a destination or a project there is no stopping me. I move forward with a crazy determination and expect fast results. Just like the vagabond tourists that keep me from moving forward at my chosen pace, I get frustrated with the obstacles that get in my way of what I want to do.
My mojito stroll made me realize that I need to slow down. Tourists and life obstacles are not attacking me. Quite the contrary, it is usually me running up quickly behind them before they have time to move out of the way or sort themselves out. It is time to slow down … and to feel groovy.