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Slow the pace to enjoy life more

| Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2006

Stop. Look. And listen.

Before I jump into the next 500 hundred words, I am making a disclaimer. What I am about to say reminds me of a hundred other opinion pieces all making the same point: My generation needs to learn to pause. But I do not care; I'll add my two cents to the banter.

I have held this opinion on occasion, but I was especially struck by the notion during my last visit to a Pittsburgh favorite, Kennywood Park. As a good and faithful Pittsburgher, I cannot let a summer pass without at least one trip to the amusement park.

I find myself in the same routine every year. A morning and afternoon filled with rushing from one ride to the next, all the while wiping sweat off of my face and out of my eyes. As the sun beats down, I pound the pavement in order to squeeze in as many rides as possible. While waiting in line, I observe the usual cast of characters; the teen girls in their new outfits, the little kids with wide eyes, the parents just trying to withstand the heat.

But at the end of the night when the rides are shutting down, I go and stand on the bridge near the paddleboats. For a moment, I soak in the glimmering lights as the soft, old-time Kennywood music starts to play. I feel the exhaustion of the day start to creep over me as Kennywood slides into another world, one of calm and silence.

I realized something as I stood on the bridge. Of course, I had fun during the day, but I discovered that fun was at the cost of truly enjoying my surroundings. What could I possibly observe and notice about the park itself at the pace I felt obliged to maintain all day• I have never noticed that beautiful fountain to my left, I thought. And why hadn't I ever seen those old trees before• I had no idea there was a gazebo in Kennywood!

My problem is that all day, I had been trying to fit in one more exciting thing: one more ride, one more ice cream cone, one more cute boy. All day, I have been in a rush for that next great thing. Not until the end, when the closing of the park provided me with a brief moment to stop and observe, did I appreciate Kennywood for what it truly is -- a beautiful park full of light, charm, history and romance.

And isn't that the manner is which we so frequently live life• We rush from one great thing to the next, without ever pausing. We all do it in our own way, whether it is in our educations, careers, hobbies or relationships. We "youngsters" need to learn to slow down a bit and see the forest through the trees. Or, as I realized this last week, Kennywood through the rides.

Hannah Snoke, 21, of Regent Square, is a senior at Covenant College, Chattanooga, Tenn.

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