What’s that up ahead? Why is the traffic at a stand still? Ah! I see. An old lady is crossing the road.
She was crossing diagonally the heart of the cross, and was only a fraction of the way out before the green man was flashing and threatening to fade away with the callousness of municipal technology.
Four arms of traffic filled; this was peak travelling time. All those pairs of eyes on her as she shuffled across the tarmac. All those engines calmed for no more than a couple of minutes that extended, and extend still. The engines um-ed in thought. No distinct thought in particular, just the awareness of thoughts in existence.
What essential work she did for us, crossing slowly. Way above, over the cross-hairs of the cross roads, the clouds did part to allow a patch of bright blue. Jets diverted in respect.
It was right we were all stopped to watch her pass. Perhaps there should be more old ladies crossing, imparting their message – the same yet bespoke for anyone who cares to look. Perhaps they should be employed to cross. An army of them, shifts of them. I imagine those who don’t need sleep anymore out late pressing and pressing buttons at traffic lights to slow down the passage of late night people desperate for something that soon becomes a memory.
Perhaps they should be introduced into the fabric of all systems. Nano-old ladies, and men, taking their time inside networks, their own sweet time full of unhurry and “less speed” from the saying.
They should concoct the chemical version of old people to slow reactions, and inside the internet, search engines would rev and vroom impatiently – until they learn – as ancient people move gradually as cress from one side to a virtual other. In-between the keys on a keyboard, through busy fibre-optics, lifting the digital spaghetti of info to step gingerly through, our fizzing, vicious succession of results and improvements stymied by old ladies and old men.
Imagine all the progress impetuous for its own end transformed into contemplative idleness: old people parading by. But don’t stop one and sit them down, pour tea into them or ask what they actually think. Let them shuffle off to inhabit their armchair chiaroscuro. Their myopic take on how the world spins will depress the hell out of you. They just give you a second to think for yourself.