I work about seven miles south of the Oregon border, so it is possible at lunch time to drive up and do a bit of shopping. (Oregon does not have sales tax; California does.) Depending on the weather, time of year, what I’m buying, and how many stops I have to make, I can usually fit this into my lunch hour. But then there is the wild card — the population of the town itself. Brookings, Oregon, is known as a retirement community; 24% of its population is over 65 years of age, and another 24% is between 45 and 64 years of age. All it takes is one senior citizen driving cautiously to add extra time to the commute. (And if you are in a hurry, NEVER go to Fred Meyer on the first Tuesday of the month; that’s when they give seniors discounts.)
Why do we move slower as we get older? The basic answer is . . . because our reflexes get slower. It has to do with connections in our brain, and though we can improve things by keeping our brain active and taking good care of our health, a certain amount of it seems inevitable. Today I found myself wondering if there are other reasons, the sort of reasons that are difficult to measure quantitatively. Might it be because older people have learned it’s more about the journey than the destination? Perhaps because our bodies generally do not work as well as that of a 27-year-old, so it takes longer to walk or to write a check? Perhaps because the culture we grew up in was not quite as good at instant gratification? Perhaps because that same culture offered a much smaller range of choices, both in the items you could buy and in the number of places where you could buy them. Is it because we grew up with books and the new media of television, rather than personal computers, cell phones, Blackberries, and laptops? Is it because we see Life as a work of art rather than a product? Is it because, theoretically, we have less time ahead of us, and we want to enjoy it while we can? Is it because we are tired of hurrying, of being expected to do more in less time? What do you think?
As my mom got older, I cultivated patience when waiting for someone slower than I am. I figured it was possible I would be older and slower one day, and I hope others will be patient with me. Some days, and in some situations, that is easier to remember than others. I also remember being taught to have respect for elders; in some cultures this is still being taught, but not as much as it was 50 years ago. It is okay to disagree with your elders, as long as you do it respectfully.
Slowing down is not a bad thing. Type A personalities are the ones who get a lot done in a short period of time; I often joke that must make me a Type C or D, because I refuse to push myself that hard. I recently gave notice to friends that I’m slowing down even more, so must be a Type F or G personality. 🙂 So I’m a supporter of slowing down . . . . just not when you are in front of me on my lunch break.