In our own time Wendell Berry has written eloquently of pulling off the high-speed world of an American interstate highway into an Appalachian campground, and needing more than an hour to slow down and adjust to the rhythms of his own body and the world close at hand. –Kathleen Norris, Acedia and Me, p220
This one isn’t about the noonday demon. This is about decelerating into place-ness. Or, more accurately, consideration of said.
I ran across the passage while still traveling from Point A to Point C, and marked it, thinking, “From urban bustle to eleven days of hiking…that could take an adjustment. Let’s see whether it does.”
I’m not sure it does. Or perhaps my slowing down has less to do with the physical speed of the car that I’m not driving and more to do with my brain and its access to interactions. (Not stimuli per se; there’s plenty of stimuli here.)
Today we started from Point B and arrived at Point C. Today was nicely paced, with a rewarding mix of driving and doing. And maybe that helped me decelerate into place, since there would be some US highway (still fast!) and then some immersion in the landscape. Some nods and smiles to trail-people, who don’t count, and then back in the car with only My Sweetie, no radio, for another couple of hours. Definitely a Good Day, worth remembering.
As I sit and study on this–decelerating into place, adjusting to one’s body rhythms–I find I’m not yet willing to wave my hand and say, “Nah, I got this!” I could be deferring to Mr. Berry’s eminence; he’s lived a lot longer than I have, and many people respect what he says. I think, though, I’m also deferring to a larger experience of absorbing myself into this place. For starters, my basic biology is still travel-mixed, and the odds are 70-30 that tomorrow I will wake at dawn for Central Texas, which is an hour before my here-dawn. There is electricity here, but no connectivity. It’s not mattering today, but will it not-matter in a week? As I say, it’s a larger experience than adjusting to other new places has been.
I have ten more days in being of-this-place. Maybe slowing down is indeed larger than one hour. Maybe Mr. Berry will turn out to better at it than I am, that his hour was enough. Any way I look at it, though, I have plenty of time in this moment to not-decide.