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  • When I was a teenager, so many years ago, I became infatuated, if that is the right word, with David Bowie's mid 1970s' album "Low".

    I played it over and over, mostly in my first year room at college. Paying little mind to much else. Clutter and trash piled up around me. If I was unkempt, my room was triply so. A point only really brought home to me when the cleaning lady flatly refused to enter the room until there was at least enough room to allow the entry of a vacuum cleaner.

    The opening cut on that album, "Speed Of Life", is a frenetic synthesis of drums and electronics, an instrumental over in a barely a minute or so. Completely out of character with the glam rocker that I had grown up with. Strange and beguiling, it gave the burgeoning sense of alienation that was starting to rule my life its first true soundtrack.

    It's still there, as a comment and an expression, even though that sense of alienation has been turned upside down. What was once scary has become comforting and my memories and attitudes have taken on a sense of rootedness that grows stronger as I age.

    I have slowed down.

    Now, when I gaze into that photograph of my great-grandfather, standing by his pony and trap, pipe in hand, I see someone living at the pace of life that I can relish.

    I find myself thinking of this more and more as wander home through Forest Park on my slow bicycle, camera always on hand to capture whatever takes my fancy. Beside me, far faster cyclists speed on. Clad in tight fitting spandex, they sometime shout out, "On your left", words I can barely make out before the wind carries them away.

    Bemused, I pass or am passed by runners, wired to counters or transfixed by cell phones. Glassy eyed either way, do they see anything beyond the immediate path in front of them?

    I pause at the The Boathouse, take in a beer and watch the boaters splash to and fro. Or look at my fellow drinkers. Again, so many with smart phone in hand. I sense the tug as those who put their iPhones aside try a little conversation with their companions. All the while itching to return to that little screen.

    Perhaps I would have more sympathy for them if I too felt that craving to be connected. But I don't. I love being alone. I love knowing I am untouchable, floating free without any tie.

    Of course, these moments are limited. I time them. But what a gift it is to be able to do that, to be free of any obligation, for even a short time in this age of hyperconnectiveness.

    This is how I imagine my great-grandfather must have felt, as he rode his trap to village or church, with wide eyes for the slow world around him.

    We have gained so much. And we have lost.
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