A couple of months ago, it started to pour with rain while Isabella rode my shoulders in a backpack-like contraption. There were, surprisingly, plenty of available taxis that day on 6th Avenue, but No Impact means no taxis, so I did my best in a wind-torn wrestling match with our umbrella and I started the trudge home.
Isabella started crying. I tried tilting our umbrella so that it covered her more, but she only cried harder. Then a gust of wind blew the umbrella over, rain poured over both of us, and Isabella quieted. I wrestled the umbrella back over us, and she cried again. It took me a couple of blocks and about umpteen times through this cycle before I finally got it. Isabella wasn’t crying because she was getting wet; she was crying because she wanted to feel the rain.
Another day, I planned to take her to the park. She waddled along beside me. We hadn’t moved half a block, when she stopped. She hit a little chain hanging from a fire hydrant with her hand so that the chain swung back and forth. I tried to push her along, and she started to cry. I relented and she went back to the chain, watching it till it stopped swinging and then hitting it again. I wanted to rush so we could get to the park and start having fun. Why did it take me so long to realize Isabella was already having fun?
There are two rhythms playing here in New York City. First, there is the natural rhythm: the one where you get wet when it rains, and it take a long time to get places because you walk. Then there is the faster rhythm of elevators and subways and delivery boys and cell phones and never have a minute to think. It’s the difference between the beat of
classical music and techno.
To live in the No Impact experiment, giving up the cars and machines that make life more “efficient,” I’ve had to say goodbye to the faster beat. Sometimes I forget, but what my little rain-loving Zen master Isabella reminds me when she slows me down is that I’m not left without music. It’s just that to hear the quieter sounds of the classical, you have to give up straining to hear the techno.