Maybe slower pace is what we need in 2013

January 5, 2013

So this is the year 2013. Just when I was getting used to writing “2000” on my checks.

Oh, wait, has it been that long since the turn of the century? Thirteen years?

My stars and garters, as my mother would say.

The world keeps changing – not just while we’re sleeping but right under our feet. But while technology is getting better and better, most other things seem to be heading in the wrong direction – in a tailspin.

In my opinion, the quality of music, movies and entertainment in general is getting worse.

There is no shortage of fine singers and musicians, but the song melodies being written are mostly mediocre at best. Special effects in some movies are amazing. However, most of the dialogue and story lines are either simplistic and uninteresting, or so coarse and vulgar as to discourage them from being watched in mixed company.

I’m still stunned beyond belief that journalism on the national level has become a shelter for political advocacy, instead of being a reliable source for reporting straight facts – or investigating that which has been deliberately hidden by scoundrels. Other than the fact that “news” is available 24/7 these days, I’m not sure there is a notable upside at this point in the broad world of journalism.

Most of all, it seems that people are getting worse in some regards.

Disrespect and rudeness toward others is displayed in stores and restaurants, and even by so-called customer service representatives. Menacing people pushing carts through the grocery stores will turn a corner on two wheels and run right over you. Sometimes it’s like some crazy deleted scene from “Death Race 2000.” (For those unfamiliar, that’s an obscure, tongue-in-cheek movie from 1975 with a slight cult following starring a young Sylvester Stallone, in which race car drivers earn points for running over people in the streets of a futuristic world.)

Speaking of deadly traffic, that’s one area in which disregard for others may be the worst. I think bad drivers learn from and feed off of others – especially in the Metroplex.

The sheer speed of life is almost always on view there. I was driving in Dallas last Saturday, and unfortunately my destination meant that my best route would be on LBJ Freeway. Instead of being in the usual North Dallas NASCAR freeway race, it turned out to be a slow grind because of a wreck up ahead.

The slow pace was calming, in a way, although changing lanes was quite a trick. But I did notice that a few drivers actually let me in when I started edging over.

It was almost civilized.

I wondered if the mere fact that everyone was forced to inch along may have dulled that nasty edge. We were all in it together, at least for a few miles. Nothing – short of putting the car in park and walking away – could be done about it.

In a somewhat related note, I have observed that when someone loses a family member – whether it was an unexpected death or not – it seems to have a similar influence as our life speed slows to a crawl. Almost everyone hit by the loss slows down their mental approach to life. They start to connect more with people. Work becomes secondary. That ballgame they were thinking about disappears from their radar. Wonder of wonders, sometimes they even make eye contact with each other and have real conversations.

Adjusting our own attitude by design can help us calm down a bit in life, as well. Learning to slow down to a more appropriate speed – not just while driving – is highly recommended.

But it shouldn’t take a death in the family for us to realize the benefit of seeing the world go by a little slower.

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