When Life Is Slow, Go Even Slower
A note to myself from the side of the highway
Last week, my car needed service.
I typically manage such days of privileged inconvenience by dropping my car at the dealer and grabbing a ride home with a friend or taking advantage of Toyota’s free shuttle service. But in these unusual times, when policies and hours of operation change as county health department stats ebb and flow, typically is no longer a word I use to describe much of anything.
Because what the hell is typical — or usual? Clamoring for either only makes Covid’s long tail even less tolerable. I’m ready to abolish both when it comes to capturing how 21st century life undulates and stutters.
It’s not that pandemic co-existence makes all familiar behaviors impossible. Either solve last Tuesday (shuttle or friend) could have been exercised safely and swiftly transported me back to duties and routines while I lived for 8 hours without a car (hardship lite).
But, the bigger question: Deadlines and obligations aside, did I (do we ever, for that matter) really require a swift return to duties and routines? Does racing to and from an uninspiring, necessary activity as quickly as possible somehow improve productivity, quality of life, or mood? I doubt it.
So, caring far less about efficiency and far more about spirit, I walked that day.
Specifically, I walked 3.5 miles from the Toyota dealer to my house after dropping the car in the early morning, and 3.5 miles back to pick it up that evening. By big city measures, that distance is nothing. Seven miles on foot hardly summons notice in Manhattan. But where I live in coastal California, cars are king and walking is weird. Rugged nature in these parts may take your breath away, but stretches of strip malls thronged by asphalt give it all back.
The path to the commercial stretch of my small town’s big road — marked by dirty concrete, mattress stores, and fast food chains — is far from scenic. But I didn’t care.
As I walked the uninspiring blocks, I listened to podcasts, called my mother, and thought about how grateful I am to own and drive a safe, well-maintained car, and to occupy a healthy, well-maintained body. When I rounded the…