Slow Down

Slow Down, You Crazy Child

It’s raining outside, bringing me back to the Goldenes Quartier where I strolled in the drizzle of Viennese rain, passing from shop window to shop window and listening to Billy Joel sing slow down, you crazy child, you’re so ambitious for a juvenile…

I remember dragging my feet a little, feeling slightly weighed down by a blanket of pressure I had draped over my shoulders.  Soon, I would escape the rain by going into a little café for coffee and peach cake, then I’d get lost on my way to Hundertwasser House, all the while thinking about everything I wanted to see and do before having to catch my bus to Bratislava the next morning.  

And even more than this, I’d be thinking about the places I wanted to visit before I had to settle down, and all the books I wanted to write before I died, and every other task from menial to big that I felt compelled to complete before I felt accomplished and proud enough of my life to take a break, so conscious of time ticking loudly in my ear. 

I’m used to rushing around, you see.  It’s been a common theme throughout my life.  Every Monday, I’d rush from English class to piano lessons.  And then I rushed from highschool to University, rushing from lecture hall to lecture hall.  I rushed from my bed to the shower, from home to the bus stop, to jobs I didn’t particularly enjoy, back to the bus stop, back home, back to the computer to write more, apply more, do more.  Soon I was rushing to the airport, to train stations in the early morning when the sky was still dark, to the peaks of mountains to catch sunsets, to more cities, more temples, more museums.  

Rushing, rushing, rushing; never really stopping to catch my breath, to heal blisters, to put down bags that were too heavy for my tired back.  

Until suddenly…there’s been nowhere to rush to.  No 6am flights, no one hour bus rides to work, no happy hours with friends, no extra-curricular activities, no nothing. 

At first, I felt a welcomed sense of relief.  Like for the first time, the world was giving me permission to do nothing.  But this sensation was quickly swallowed up, replaced by the sense of urgency I know all too well.  Read another book, start writing another story, apply for another job, do another puzzle, send another cold pitch, do more, do more, do more! 

And so I find myself here: still rushing from task to task, still hurrying to cross another thing off my never-ending to-do list, still running in pursuit of something that I don’t even know has a name.  It’s like I don’t know what to do with myself if I’m not doing something.  

Maybe I haven’t changed much from that girl wandering the streets of Vienna.  I’m still wishing I had more time, still wishing the days didn’t pass so quickly, still feeling heavy with the strain that I should be doing more.  Maybe that’s something I’m going to have to work on for the rest of my life.  But maybe, just maybe, I’ll wake up one morning, and I’ll hear the rain gently falling outside, and I’ll realize that what I’m doing is good, and it’s enough, and that Vienna is waiting for me. Just like Billy said. 

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