Monday, August 26, 2013

What's the Rush?

I live in downtown Toronto in a condo building that’s located at a busy intersection. On my street, it’s the last intersection before the exit to the Gardiner Expressway (westbound). That explains why, during the suppertime rush hour, cars race to make the light. The result? Two lanes of four or five cars parked in the intersection after the light has turned red. That’s when I’m treated to a symphony of honking horns, and the occasional aria of expletives, as drivers, trying to advance while their light is green, can’t move forward because of the vehicles blocking the intersection. It’s a scene that plays out daily, and I’m always left wondering, “What’s the rush?”

What’s the rush?

Some days, too, I am caught up in that rush. Walking down the sidewalk and caught behind someone who’s “lollygagging,” I pick up the pace to pass them as if we were racing down the 401. Or when an elevator arrives, I bolt inside and press the “Close Door” button so that no one else can get on and I can go straight to my desired floor. I have to remind myself that life is not a race but more so an adventure. And when I slow down and take in the view, there’s a lot to be discovered.

Like yesterday (Sunday, 25 August), when I went for a walk to one of my favourite coffee shops. My intention was to simply get a coffee, head to the grocery store and then return home. But exiting the coffee shop, I noticed that there was an unusual amount of people walking along Yonge Street. I walked to the King and Yonge intersection, and when I looked northward, I could see a large banner in the distance and a throng of people. Curiosity got the better of me, so I headed north along Yonge. Not in a rush, I discovered that the Buskerfest was in full swing, and took a little time to take in the sights and performances. And earlier that day as I stepped into the elevator on my floor, I heard the swoosh of a door opening and then a key in a lock. This time I pressed the “Open Door” button and, rushing into the elevator, my neighbour offered a gracious, “Thank you.”

Sometimes we think that, by rushing, we’re going to get to our destination that much faster. Actually, I think we’re running nowhere fast. Like with my writing. I’m in the middle of rewriting a novel, which at times has felt long and hard. The first seven chapters needed a lot of work, and at times I was discouraged but I kept on keeping on. The writing in next four chapters held up really well, with only minor tweaks required here and there. Then this week I reached Chapter Twelve and I thought, “Okay, it’s not bad.” I wanted to hang on to the rhythm from Chapters Eight to Eleven. I wanted to keep moving quickly, content to, once again, make only minor tweaks. But something kept gnawing at me so I again read through Chapter Twelve, and I realized that the writing was not okay. Actually, it was bad, downright bad, and what was needed was a from-the-top rewrite.

So that’s where I find myself now, rewriting Chapter Twelve, and taking the time to do it right. There’s no need to rush, especially if I want the writing to hold up. I have to let the project be born in its own time. I am simply the conduit, as if taking down dictation from the heavens.

In this fast-paced world, I am learning, slowly but surely, to “slow down and smell the roses.” Slowing down, that’s when I can see the beauty that is this world.

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