The Quick and the Bored

31 Jul 07

It occurred to me while walking to work this morning, as I narrowly avoided stepping on a dead rabbit, that although speed can often be the cause of death, pain and suffering, it can also be the preventer of such things. This fact may be blindingly obvious to most “normal” people, but to me it was a bit of a revelation. If the rabbit had bounded a little faster across the dirt track, to get to the relative safety of the cornfield, then whatever got him may not have got him. Whether or not the rabbit was indulging in such philosophical ponderances as he shuffled off his mortal coil, the ethos of “Slow” was not one that did him any favours at this fatal juncture in his existence. He may have even lay there, as his life ebbed away from him, and cursed the fact the he hadn’t allowed himself to be captured by the recent passing scientist and had bionic hind legs implanted, as part of a top secret government programme to create a race of virtually invincible Cyber-Bunnies. I like to think, however, that it all happened in the blink of an eye and the poor little furry fellow didn’t have time to think about anything.

But as I was saying…

Speed can enable us to escape. It can take us from a place of danger to a place of safety. The tortoise may have been more wily than the hare, but I think if you were to plonk them both in a middle of a road in the direct path of an oncoming truck and bet on the outcome, you would be far more likely to make a profit if you were to put your money on the hare. Unless it was a big, slow, half-blind, chronically despondent hare, who had just had a big Sunday lunch. And a bionic tortoise. But my point is that there are times in one’s life – whether one is fleeing from an axe-wielding maniac, trying to hide in a cornfield from a murderous raven or being the unwitting participant in a game of chicken with an oncoming truck – when speed is definitely the best policy. It can indeed save one’s life. This fact is evident in the film title, The Quick and the Dead, and such phrases as, Quick on the draw, and, Run for your life!

But this does beg the question, in everyday life, when one is not constantly on the run from axe-wielding maniacs and the like… What are we (the vast numbers of speed-obsessed members of society) trying to escape from? What demons are on our tails, pushing us inexorably forward, faster, more urgently, more desperately than ever? What hateful, monstrous visages will we see bearing down upon us, if we take the time to stop, turn around and face whatever it is we fear we are being pursued by?

I have a sneaking suspicion that if the speed-obsessed masses stopped, put down their Styrofoam cups of bubbling, frothing, spilling-over coffee and turned around, they would not find snarling, rapier-fanged, venom-spewing beasts, ready to tear them apart and consume their souls. They may, however, find that they are confronted by what could be said to be a far more terrifying, but less obviously beast-like nemesis… one by the name of “Boredom.”

And God forbid that we should ever be bored!



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