Learning to Wait

11 Oct

“Something understood” on BBC Radio4 at 6am on a Sunday morning is a great way to start the day, a gentle exercise for the mind with an eclectic mix of music.  It is possibly even the media highlight of the week.  A few weeks ago the topic was “Learning to Wait”, and it featured readings from Carl Honore’s “In praise of Slow”, already mentioned in this blog, and also Milan Kundera’s “Slowness” – a book I must read again. 

The latter contains a discussion about our love affair with the car and how the quest for speed has isolated us from any appreciation of the very real and physical exertion necessary to run faster.  I suppose I would add to the debate that, walking is the ultimate conclusion when it is accepted that one will get there in the end, and there is much to be enjoyed along the way, that can only be appreciated when walking.

The programme also asserted that the term “indolence” is misunderstood as meaning lazy, when really it simply means the very sensible objective of avoiding exertion.  I can go along with that, since one of my guiding mottos is “any fool can be uncomfortable”.  Something I actually don’t live up to very well.

With that in mind, I diverged from my normal route to buy the Sunday paper, to take in a brief walk along some paths through Copthorne, Beck’s Field and along the River to Frankwell, emerging again atSt George’s Streetand Providence Row.  The walk by the river was particularly beautiful in the early morning sunshine (putting aside the heady aroma of Himalayan Balsam and dog excrement), with the distant sound of work beginning on setting up the Shrewsbury Folk Festival in the agricultural showground.  Returning around Frankwell roundabout, I passed a rather anguished and dishevelled woman, sitting on a bench, possibly recovering from a heavy Saturday night, and then I saw a (slightly less dishevelled) man sleeping in his car.  It crossed my mind that our respective perceptions of the morning could be so different.  My walk had helped to ease many of the stresses and frustrations with life that had built up.

Of course, I could be misreading the situation: the woman may have just returned from a brisk 5 mile run, and the man may have just been having a snooze whilst waiting to collect his aged mother en route to church.  And let’s hope that was the case.

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