A Jolting Message To Slow Down

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - November 16, 2011
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The canoe is good as new again. Ron Mizutani photo

Sept. 7 started like any other hectic morning in our home. I woke up at 4:30 and jumped on the computer to catch up with overnight news in Hawaii and beyond. After scanning nearly a dozen websites, I rushed down the hallway to get the children up at 5:30, ironed two shirts for work, grabbed a cup of coffee, put my oneman canoe on my truck and then raced out the door before 6 a.m. to get the kids to school on time.

The daily rat race was under way. But little did I know I was about to get a jolting reminder to take a deep breath and slow down.

After dropping the children off at school, I made my way down Kapiolani Boulevard and turned onto Piikoi Street where the KHON2 Broadcast Center is located. Nothing out of the ordinary, it was all part of my daily routine.

But this day was different. A split second after entering the parking structure I heard a loud boom and my truck violently shook! It took a nanosecond to realize what was happening. My canoe was still on my truck, and it was being crushed!

Over the years, co-workers had seen me approach the building dozens of times and watched as I removed my one-man canoe before entering the parking structure because it doesn’t clear the lowhanging beams and pipes.

On this particular morning, KHON2 local sales manager Steve Hiramoto had just gotten out of his car and was stunned by what he witnessed. “Are you OK?” he asked.

I quietly shook my head and replied, “No.”

I didn’t even bother getting out of my truck, and slowly backed up. The sound of crackling and crunching echoed through the parking lot as my canoe squeezed past water pipes, concrete beams and the building’s low clearance sign.

Once I cleared the structure, I removed my canoe and it nearly collapsed in my arms. I nearly collapsed when I saw the damage. It was at that moment that I realized I needed to slow down not my driving (my children will tell you I drive like an old man) but my life. In my haste to get to work, combined with clouded thoughts from looking ahead at a busy day, I completely spaced. And it was going to cost me.

My family and friends were sympathetic, knowing my canoe and the ocean helped me stay balanced in life. Most repeated what I already had told myself: “You need to slow down.”

In March of 2009, I received a similar message when I suffered an allergic reaction after taking an anti-inflammatory drug. If it weren’t for my son asking me to toss a football with him for a few minutes, I may have suffered the reaction out at sea, and it could have cost me my life.

That incident grabbed my attention and changed my ways, briefly. It was obvious I needed another wake up call and received it when I rammed my canoe into our parking structure. It was another jolting message to slow down.

Two months have past since that fateful morning, and my pace has slowed considerably. Amazingly, the crew at Kamanu Composites rebuilt my treasured one-man canoe and it runs beautifully. I know I was a bear to be around during the time it took to repair the vessel, but life has been good and the daily grind is no longer a hectic routine.

The message that morning was loud and clear. It’s one we’ve all heard at one time in our lives, but for some reason we just don’t always listen. And isn’t it strange the people who say, “I don’t have time to slow down,” are the very ones who need to slow down the most?


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