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"walk slow," written in all lower case, is how I've been closing my letters and e-mails since I was 16, when I saw Reid Pfeiffer conclude a column in my school's underground newspaper that way.

Reid was a decent sort of guy: a little doughy, member of the school knitting club, and genuinely more grounded and insightful than most high schoolers. He wore a scarf, with all that implies. For a little while, he wanted everybody in the world to read Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

But what does this have to do with "walk slow"? Glad you asked.

I never asked Reid what it meant, but being 16, and wanting desperately to be an intellectual philosopher, I assumed that, coming from Reid, it must mean something, like that pile of mashed potatoes Weird Al makes in UHF.

As I grew up, and became slightly more sure of myself and my own ability to say intelligent things, I considered my favorite parting line and what it meant. Heaven forbid I become some sort of poser who steals empty words I don't even understand. It could mean a lot of things: relax, pay attention, or don't move so fast, the sniper might miss. "walk slow" isn't really a koan per se, but it's good enough for me. Sort of a cross between the teachings of a stereotypical enlightened master, and the Cowboy from The Big Lebowski.

In closing,
walk slow:

  • mysterious parting words
  • motto
  • philosophical one-liner
  • mine
  • yours, if you can grab it from my palm, grasshopper.

walk slow

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