Not So Fast
Off the Wall, March 23
, 2012

As I was sweeping my garage one day, I began meditating and at the same time chuckling over one word in our vocabulary that caught my attention in any number of ways. It’s the was “fast.” I can only surmise that I was led to think about the act of fasting since we are now in the midst of Lent.

But really, here we have an interesting word, if I do say so myself.

I don’t know why, but I remember my father calling to me to run lick-a-tee split or as fast as I can to fetch a ball when he, my brother Bob and I were playing in our backyard in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. There, at least from a kid’s viewpoint, we had a large property and could run freely without so much as worrying about getting intertwined in rose bushes, having always to be mindful of locations of roads. Thank goodness, when my brother was younger he couldn’t throw a ball that far. Those were the good ol’ days

Any number of things come to mind when I think of doing things quickly.

Remember when we saw a bus up ahead that we had to board. It was either missing it or scampering a bit faster to see if we could get there in time to enter its doors.

When I was in high school, one of my favorite past times was visiting the community center where we had dances. Then, I was a little more limber and could move my body in various directions to the sound of the music. I was one of those guys who loved to dance fast. Give me a good rock ‘n roll song with plenty of beat and particularly electric guitar music, and you could count on it – this guy was doing his thing!

Years ago, a past time friend, Boyd Schrum and I decided to visit Kinzua Dam when we planned to camp out and do some fishing in the lake. What I didn’t know was that he had a friend nearby our campground that had one of those speedboats. Now, I don’t mind going moderately fast across the waters, but the other two gentlemen had different ideas. The owner revved his motor so the watercraft went full throttle I think above the surface. To say we were going fast was an understatement. They loved the speed. I wasn’t at all for it. I don’t like to go fast regardless of the circumstances.

When I was a police officer in Ohio, often on Friday nights, one “gent” always tried to outrun us. We knew where he’d start, so we sat and waited for his arrival. Sure enough, he’d always show up, and within seconds, the pursuit would begin. We’d race to the county line and then he knew we were out of luck. To go from zero miles per hour to 65 was a bit much for my blood pressure. Thank goodness it happened only once a week.

On the other side of the coin we’ve all heard the expression, “Not so fast!” Maybe Christine has made a quick conclusion about something and Father Steven will correct her in a kind and loving way. Maybe Ron will stick his whole hand in the bowl containing M & M’s, and Nancy will catch him doing it and reprimand him for do so. Or maybe a group of people will be saying the Holy Rosary too quickly, and Jeffrey may step in and state, “Not so fast.” Recite it slower, this time, “not so fast.”

We have all driven down streets where signs are posted – “Slow Children.” I’ve always considered myself in that category. I don’t learn fast – at least when it comes to technical information – fishing, yes, computers, no.

So, here we are in Lent. We are told to fast during this season. That means to practice abstinence. For those whom do not grasp that big word, we are to cut out something we enjoy. Frank may forgo listening to phonograph records, Kenny watching television, or John eating pastries.

Here is the part that gets me. If we are to act as to do something fast for the sake of not doing it at all, what’s with that? I know, I can hear it already – “Not so fast, Pee Vee!” This whole idea has me in a tizzy somehow. Can’t you just imagine going to a fast food restaurant and pulling up to the window and stating, “Are we to abstain from the food you are selling, after all it is “fast food,” or ignore the yearly Lenten practice? Sure gives one something to think about.

When it comes right down to it, persons have already hurried decided about doing nothing or adding something to their schedules. That’s surely the fast way of fasting!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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