Each summer, no matter how pressing my work schedule, I take off one day exclusively for my son. We call it dad-son day. This year our third stop was the amusement park, where he discovered (at the age of 9) that he was tall enough to ride one of the fastest roller coasters in the world. We blasted through face-stretching turns and loops for 90 seconds. Then, as we stepped off the ride, he shrugged and, in a distressingly calm voice, remarked that it was not as exciting as other rides he'd been on. As I listened, I began to sense something seriously out of balance....

[In] school ... kids [are] navigating ever more densely packed schedules. The morning rush to make the schoolbus is matched by a rapid shuttle through after-school sports, piano, foreign language programs and social activities. Dinner is, too often, a series of snacks eaten on the run. Then, if they manage to get their homework done, the kids want to "relax" in front of highly arousing images on the television or computer screen....

My wait at the airport for a flight home from a scientific meeting gave me time to think more about this fast-track phenomenon. I fleetingly considered my own need to slow down and the disturbing truth in the cliche that each year goes by more quickly. I realized with sadness how soon my children will be grown, and I sensed the fear that I may miss chapters of their childhood amid my hectic, overfilled life. In these images, I saw clearly the need to help our children find alternatives to the thrill-seeking fast lane by leading a slower version of life ourselves. I became convinced that nothing could be so important as finding a more balanced path, rediscovering slower, simpler pleasures before we all become burned out and bored to death.

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Beauty all around, on the way to healing
June 22, 1998

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