Back six or so years ago when I first started writing my newsletter it used to be a bit longer. Over time we simplified our format to make the newsletter more palatable for busy people. For today’s issue I’ve gone back into the vaults and rewritten one of my favorite stories, while keeping the extra sections we used to have. I’ve kept in the extras because I feel like the message communicated is important.
2. Why do you talk so fast?
As a young man, I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For me, going to North Carolina was very much like entering into an alien world. The culture of “The South” was quite different than the “Yankee” culture of New York City.
“Down South,” people move slower, take more time to make decisions, and talk much slower than New York City folk. Southerners have a lovely way of taking a simple one syllable word like “Yes” and rolling it around in their mouth so that a “Yankee” such as myself, feels like they have expanded it into three syllables.
One hot summer day while driving around trying to find my friend’s rural house, I got quite lost. I remember thinking only half jokingly, “My goodness, why can’t they just have a nice clean grid of streets and avenues like we do in Manhattan!”
As I drove around lost I came across a quintessential old fashioned country gas station. There were a couple of gasoline pumps sitting out in front of a wooden building with a tin roof. The building was a “general store” with a wide wooden porch, and sure enough a sleepy looking old man was sitting in a rocking chair struggling to stay awake. I remember having a clear sense of having entered into a time warp.
I popped out of my car at New York City speed and roused the man by asking him for directions. He slowly raised his head, smiled, and said “Why don’t you take it easy and sit a spell?”
As I was already late I found his suggestion frustrating, but there was something about this old codger that led me to put my frustration aside and have a seat. He pointed to a large metal bucket filled with ice and “pop” (that’s Southern talk for “a soda.”) and said “Go on and have one, it’s on me.” A cool drink seemed like a good idea, so I cracked open a bottle of “Orange Squash”
I have little remembrance of the conversation the gentleman engaged me in, but it had nothing to do with where I was wanting to get to.
At some point he asked me “Why do you talk so fast?” I was surprised by his question, and had no ready reply.
“Seems to me,” the man said, “Talking fast just gets a person overheated, and on a hot day like today getting overheated is a big mistake.”
He stopped me in my tracks with his words, because on an intuitive level I understood he was quite right.
He said, “Why don’t you take the time and relax into your thoughts? Let the words come out on their own when they’re ready. When you hurry your thinking you hurry your words, and soon you’re talking so fast even you can’t make sense out of what you’re saying. The more you hurry, the less time you’ll feel you have.”
As a young, confused college student, I found his words to be quite profound.
“The place you’re looking for is about two hundred yards down to the left.”, the man said. “Why don’t you leave your car here and walk? Walking will slow you down, and that’s a good thing on a hot day like today.”
I knew he was right, so walk I did!
I hadn’t walked more than twenty yards when the man called out after me, “No need to rush. Why don’t you slow down a tad? No sense in overheating yourself. You’ll always have enough time if you make the time. The slower you go, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.”
3. Further Thoughts
In Seishindo we understand words to be food for the body. Angry, harsh words are like eating junk food. High on calories and bad for the heart. Lightly nuanced appreciative conversation can be like a fine meal at a healthy restaurant.
When you talk rapidly your words come out faster than your body can digest. A long winded quickly spoken description of events or relationships, particularly if seasoned with anxiety or resentment, can be like eating a big meal filled with grease and starch– Your body will have to really struggle to keep up with the input. Junk food conversations effect the soft tissue of your body, and eventually even eat away at your muscle tissue and nervous system. You need to feed your body healthy, medium sized portions of words, at a speed your body can easily digest.
In general the intellect likes to go at a quicker pace than the body. When you’re worried, hurried, or stressed out, the difference in speeds gets ever more pronounced, and you wind up creating a serious mismatch between the rhythm of the body and the rhythm of the intellect. What you wind up with is a sense of driving while stepping on the accelerator and the brakes at the same time.
I’m not sure how he knew it, but the old man at the gas station definitely understood something important. When you hurry your thinking you hurry your words. The more you hurry, the less time you’ll feel you have. The slower you go, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.
“Breath Talking” This is a classic Seishindo Practice. It will give you a beginning insight into how you can better feed your body and your emotions by slowing down your talking.