Slowing Down – Linda, Grade 11

Slowing Down – Linda, Grade 11

Slowing Down

It was the start of the summer holidays almost two years ago. My family was enthusiastically discussing holiday travel plans, filling the house with great excitement. “Let’s go to New York and Boston,” my mother suggested cheerfully, “we not only can go sightseeing and shopping but also can let the kids visit the Ivy League universities!” This suggestion suddenly amplified everyone’s exhilaration and anticipation of the upcoming trip.

Like a crowd of birds twittering in the forest, almost everyone was actively contributing their ideas about what to do on the trip. While listening to this seemingly endless discussion, I kept myself busy on my laptop, trying to email all my classmates about the upcoming rehearsal schedule. I stared at the laptop screen indifferently, fingers swiftly tapping on the keyboard, with no trace of a smile on my face. Although others all appeared to be enjoying the long-drawn-out discussion, I just wished they could come up with a final plan as soon as possible so that I could continue with all my tasks for the day. Despite knowing that I was in a hurry to finish my task at hand, my father went on to ask, “Linda, why haven’t you shared any of your ideas about our trip? We all agreed on the plan to drive to Boston. What do you think?” Trying to hide the fact that he was disturbing me, I mumbled, “Let’s take the plane to Boston. There is no point in wasting so much time driving to Boston.” I would feel guilty if I wasted hours in the car, doing nothing productive. However, most others believed that it would be wonderful to take the time, enjoying the scenery along the way.

Since the others all enjoyed driving to Boston, I was forced to accept the plan. The day before we left Toronto, my mother reminded everyone to get a good night’s sleep to prepare for the long journey to the US. Knowing that I would not be able to do much in the car, I decided that I would be better off staying up overnight to finish some work as I would be able to take a long nap in the car. That night, I felt satisfied as I had gained a lot from maximizing my time.

As I planned, I slept through most of the 9-hour trip to Boston. My parents were regretful that I did not see all the magnificent sights: fields lush with grass and flowers, wheat fields like golden waves, and hills clothed with gorgeous lilies and roses, whose fragrant scent perfumed the air. Their words went in one ear and out the other as I strongly believed that sightseeing was of no relevance to my life and definitely was not a worthwhile activity.

When we almost arrived in Boston, my father suggested pulling over to a nearby coffee house to relax before entering the city. On the verge of anxiety and impatience due to the tremendous loss of time on transportation, I flatly refused to waste extra time in the coffee house. Even though our car was moving at high speed, I still felt like a turtle that might never reach its destination.

Finally, after a long drive, we pulled over to the coffee house as my father had suggested. The coffee house was located on an attractive street where every corner was carefully decorated. While others were savoring every sip of their drinks and every moment on the beautiful street, I gulped down my drink and urged them to finish quickly. Time flew by rapidly, but none of them seemed to be leaving the coffee house anytime soon. Annoyed by their slow pace, I started waiting at the door and voiced my disagreement again.

It was almost time for dinner, when we finally arrived at the house we had rented in Boston. “It would be exciting if we could make dumplings together for dinner,” my mother recommended. I found it pointless and unwise to waste time on the complex dumpling-making process when pre-made dumplings were easily accessible in the supermarket and voiced my disagreement again. But my mother walked over to me, stroked my cheek and said, “Sweetie, we would have lots of fun making tastier dumplings!” Unhappy with their dumpling plan, I hurried to the side to try to finish the book that I had brought on the trip. Everyone else, except me, went into the kitchen to help. The house was full of chatter and laughter while they kneaded the dough, rolled out the wrappers, mixed the dumpling fillings, and sealed the dumplings. It was already two hours, but the dumplings were not even half ready. Finally, after waiting ages for them, a shout came from the kitchen, asking me to sit at the table. I quickly sprang up and settled myself in front of the aroma of the freshly-made dumplings. Despite the steaming hot heat, I rushed to stuff myself with a mouthful of dumplings. My mother asked me, “Isn’t this much more delicious than those frozen dumplings in the supermarket?” I nodded in agreement. Even though it took way too much time to hand make the dumpling, I had to admit that the first bite was astonishing. In just a few minutes, I had already wolfed down everything on my plate.

A few days passed by as if they were years and finally, it was time to travel to New York.

In New York, we were welcomed by a beautiful, sunny day. The golden sunshine beamed through the tree leaves and branches, warming up hurried New Yorkers on the streets.  The flowers danced in the morning breeze, sporting their beautiful colors. But all these natural beauties were being ignored in the hustle and bustle of city life. Like other tourists in New York, we decided to go shopping on famous Fifth Avenue. I was thrilled to visit Fifth Avenue until I heard that we would be walking there instead of driving. Thinking about how much it would take before reaching our destination, I argued, “No! No! No! Let’s drive there, mom! Driving is much quicker!” My mom tried to persuade me again, “Linda, if we walked along the way to Fifth Avenue, we could see the magnificent sights of New York more closely.” Still, I was worried that we would be too late to reach our destination, “Mom, if we walk, all the stores on Fifth Avenue might be closed when we arrive there.” “Listen, Linda! It is not a big deal if we are late for shopping. We will all walk there and enjoy the beautiful street view of New York,” my mother insisted. “Fine, mom.” I finally gave in. Suddenly I had a plan. I decided to take my iPad with me so that I wouldn’t have to waste my valuable time, walking to Fifth Avenue.

While traveling towards Fifth Avenue, I busied myself with replying to emails and reading books on my iPad.  I paid little attention to the impressive skyscrapers, dazzling window displays, and well-known Rockefeller Centre and the Empire State Building. Everyone else seemed to really enjoy the scenery, frequently lingering over to take photos. I was eager to reach Fifth Avenue and was impatient with them whenever they would spend some time at each stop. The clicking sounds of my parents’ camera were always accompanied by my urge to keep moving.  The whole trip to Fifth Avenue was like a tug of war between my parents and me as I wanted to arrive at Fifth Avenue immediately while they were enjoying the sightseeing immensely.

Suddenly our tug of war was interrupted by my scream of pain. Everyone ran to me. I was sitting on the pavement, unable to make a move. Unfortunately, I had twisted my ankle. I had stepped off the curb when I was impatiently urging my parents and other friends to walk faster. I had not only killed my desire to rush to our destination but also spoiled the fun of others. As my ankle was a bit swollen, my mom decided that we all needed to take a cab to the hotel immediately.

On the way back to the hotel, my eyes were filled with tears. It was not only due to the pain but also because of my frustration and regret. Wiping away the tears on my face, my mom said, “Don’t worry Linda, I am happy that it is not broken; it is only slightly swollen. I looked up at my mom and said, “Sorry mom, I spoiled your day.” My mom, who sounded like she didn’t care at all for the fun that we had all missed, hugged me and said, “Linda, it doesn’t matter; we have already had a lot of fun.” I couldn’t stop my tears. I felt sorry, but I didn’t know what to say. I whispered to my mom, “Mom, I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have rushed so much.”

Mom pressed me even harder and said in my ear something that I will never forget, “Linda, once I read, ‘often in life the pleasure of the journey is only eclipsed by the ecstasy of the destination,’ and I have truly come to believe it.”

That night, I could not calm down myself for a long while. The stunning scenery that we drove through, the scrumptious dumplings that my family made, and the beautiful streets that we walked on all flashed in my mind. I finally realized how much I had missed for the past few days because of my habit of rushing and unwillingness to slow down. As I closed my eyes, I asked, “Isn’t my life also a journey?”