These days it isn't often that one gets to slow down and disconnect, much as one may wish for it. Indeed, when the slowdown comes unexpectedly (think Iceland volcano and cancelled air flights) the level of annoyance, irritation, desperation and suffering suggest that the last thing we want is to slow down. We just want to talk about slowing down. It's as if being wistful about this is a virtue. I have yet to read that a stranded passenger said, "I was stuck in London, so I bought a guide book, a pair of sneakers, and I'm having the time of my life." Instead, I'm reading about $10,000 taxi rides from Oslo to Rome, or how the Chancellor of Germany (who was just at Stanford on Thursday) is on an odyssey that began when she flew out of SFO. She's on armored bus now, heading home via Italy. Jeez, Chancellor, you could have just hung out with us in Palo Alto. The good news is that by all accounts she is enjoying the adventure.
Last week, or was it the week before, against the advice of the State Department and most of our relatives, my wife and I along with our youngest son spent a few days on a beach in Mexico. After arriving at beautiful digs and settling in, I noticed in myself distinct signs of resistance to the idea of relaxation. This was strange because I was the one who had suggested that we take this break given the hectic pace of the preceding weeks. I found that I had to force myself to do the things one does at the beach. When you have a natural genetic tan developed over centuries and many generations, the idea of soaking up rays by the pool has never made sense. Still, on Day Two I think it was, I found a lounge chair under a thatch umbrella and I sat there and stared out to sea. I began this at eight in the morning, doubtful that I could sit for more than ten minutes, but by evening, to my amazement, I was still there.