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“Slowly, slowly, Madam”

One of the little black and yellow padmini bumblebee taxis pulled over to the curb on Marine Drive in Mumbai. The driver got out and opened the back door. I hoisted my bag on my shoulder and bustled around the car to get in. I didn’t want to keep him waiting. While wagging his head from side to side in the wonderful way Indians have, he said, “Slowly, slowly, Madam,” in that equally wonderful cadence of English spoken in Mumbai.

I breathed and slowed down, climbed into the car and settled myself and my pack on the seat. The roof of the car had been covered with a soft colorful cloth; a picture of the driver’s guru was affixed to the front dash. I felt safe and cared for.

I have a way of going faster than is comfortable for me. Walking on the sidewalks in India, I would match my gait to that of a person in front of me—there was always someone there since Mumbai is a city of twenty million people. Always my gait slowed considerably when I matched it to another walker.

Back home, I often say to myself, “Slowly, slowly, Madam.” I laugh at myself all day long. It’s one of my favorite things. Slowing down is almost always the next obvious thing for me to do. Going slowly allows my life to be more spacious and embracing. It allows me to be present to what and who is around me. It keeps me from losing myself.

When I go slowly about my life, something else happens which I like. As I go slower, I become quieter. Inside there is a corresponding silence to the slower pace of my days. I longed for space around my heart, for time to slow down and allow me to catch up to myself. I was moving so fast I was ahead of myself.

Part of me—I think the gentle, homey, warm and funny part of me—was left behind, struggling to keep up. The joy of life today is that all of me is able to keep up with the pace I set for myself—at least much more of the time than in the past, certainly this is not a “one and done” choice—and, as a result, I feel more and more at home in my days. The quiet, the spaciousness, the easy, unhurried pace—my heart welcomes it all.

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