Today, we are obsessed with time and growth. It makes sense. After all, when we get only this much time to live, why not make every second count? So we speed up in everything we do, be it pursuing career goals or travelling. I was no different. When I began my bicycle journey from Germany to Pakistan, I covered great distances every day, because I wanted to reach my goal fast.
Back in 2015, while cycling in Iran, I met a white bearded French man Thierry in Marand with whom I shared a room in a hostel. It was a small room with two beds and hard mattresses, but no chairs or window. The light came from a tiny opening in the wall. Thierry asked me about my journey and how much distance I travelled in a day. I proudly told him, “150km, even 200!” He started shaking his head in disbelief, muttering, “too much! too much?”
I asked him where he was coming from?
“And how long did it take you?”
“What? You are not walking, are you?”
“Yes, I am walking!” he said in French accent. I tried to read his face in the dim light. He looked damn serious.
I was shocked.
I asked him, “how much distance do you do a day?”
“Some days, 10 km, some days, 20 km, unlike you, who has blinders on sides. If I see people, I stop to say hi to them, which you probably cannot do from your bicycle.”
After a pause, he said, “slow down, Kamran. You are going too fast!”
His words kept me awake. I don’t know when I fell asleep that night.
Next morning, it was a new start for me. The game plan changed. As time went by, the wisdom of his words started to unfold one beautiful moment after the other.
If you were to ask me what was the biggest gain of slowing down. I would say, not only the beauty of the nature, but also human kindness. I experienced that because I took the time to meet people that make this world a beautiful place. And by slowing down, I got to know myself better.
I believe what we truly need today is not an insane obsession with time and productivity, but a little slowing down to reflect upon what we have gotten ourselves into and if it has any meaning to us, or the world.
“Slow down” is the best advice I’ve ever received and the best I can pass on to others!