Slow Walkers

Sometimes during my workday I create the illusion that I need to be somewhere immediately. It starts when I get off the F train at Bryant Park and I begin the slow trudge up the stairs towards my workplace. There are so many people that it’s impossible to speed past them, but I do so in my mind – pushing through the crowd, frantic to get to work “on time.”

After the stairway trudge comes the next obstacle in my path to work. It’s the thin walkway that was created by the construction site in the middle of the block. Sometimes I walk up 39th street, but oftentimes I forget, on autopilot until I reach this walkway and am “forced” to walk slowly again. There’s no way to speed beyond the person in front of me because the walkway is so narrow and there are also people walking in the opposite direction, towards me.

Last week, I had a walkway thought that I can only attribute to my daily meditation practice. It came as a burst of sudden, compassionate logic. By only being able to walk as fast as the first person in the walkway on one particular morning, I felt a sense of teamwork. Does anyone else in this long line of people in front of me ordinarily walk this slow? Perhaps not, but in this moment, we walk slowly together. True, we have no choice, but there’s also something really bonding in this slow morning walk if I let it happen. These days, I’ve been incorporating this walk into my practice, making it a habit of sipping my tea leisurely as I walk. It’s a short distance, but it provides an opportunity to appreciate others around me in this busy city where “being on time” seems to be on many people’s minds in the morning on this stretch of 40th Street.