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It doesn't always have to 'hustle and bustle'

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By Michael O'Hare
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

How are you getting through this winter, dear readers?

Is it the winter of your discontent make inglorious by a lack of sun – with apology to Shakespeare – or are cold, dark, sometimes snowy days to your liking?

I have to say the warm, sunny Tuesday of this week was much appreciated by me and others. The office windows were even open for some time and the fresh air was welcome. Invigorating, really.

I could see the grass in my yard – and where beagle Cami had been spending some time.

Ugh! Time for a poop patrol.

Winter takes me back to an often-expressed theme in this column, and I once again put on my hat that indicates I am the self-proclaimed leader of the “slow-down movement.”

I often read and or hear the phrase “hustle and bustle” and it reminds me that we just accept the stress that it produces as being the way things are.

Like the changing weather or war, speed is something that folks think is just the way it is and that there is nothing to be done about it.

We a pummeled with TV advertising that flashes by at such a pace that if we momentarily have another thought while it is on we probably won't know what product was being promoted.

I check the incoming lineup of missives send to two email addresses here at work and it is constantly taking in information that, frankly, is useless. Yet I wonder at the pace with which it pours in, at the speed at which the wider world creates information that it thinks I and by extension the readers of the Leader Times need to know.

The late Trappist monk Thomas Merton once said, in part, “We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body ...”

He was right.

Do you think that maybe we have been so indoctrinated in the culture of winning that we think that it automatically means being first – hence the speed?

I am somewhat inured to speed since I have spent most of my working days meeting a deadline, but I still don't like it as a way of life.

Many times I drive down a four-lane highway (most often Route 28) and I don't drive slowly, but I am passed as if I am. I find myself wondering what motivates the speed of the other drivers.

Are they completely unaware of the beauty of their surroundings? Have they a health emergency? Are they former NASCAR champs unable to adapt to the speed limits?

I see no need for so much speed that produces not only fast drivers but also fast talkers, speedy TV shows and films or even speedy public speakers.

Which came first the speed or the short-attention spans? Like with the chicken-or-the-egg, the answer eludes us.

We live in an age when urgency doesn't create the need for speed, rather speed creates the urgency. To which I add: most often foolishly.

Winter does its natural best to slow us down, to give us time for deep breathing and contemplation.

Yet so many of us don't take advantage of that natural break. We must go, we must do, we must hurry. I can't wait to get to the bookstore to peruse the shelves, I must download and have it now -- or so we must think.

I guess I yearn for the days when one could sit by a fire, drink something slowly, take a puff on the pipe (I know, it is not healthy and I wouldn't do that part) and simply chat with one's spouse or just stare into the flames and then call the evening well spent.

Hustle and bustle, indeed. It is not the way it has to be!

If it doesn't snow today I am going home and go on my poop patrol. And I will take my time doing it.

Meandering appears Fridays. To share your thoughts on this column (or on most anything) with News Editor Mike O'Hare, write to the Leader Times, P.O. Box 978, Kittanning, PA 16201 or via e-mail to

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