Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 12, 2004
Gear down and glide awhile
Move on over into life's slow lane and savour each day
By SUZANNE ELSTON
It's summertime, and the living should be easy. But it isn't. It is expected - no demanded - that we perform, 24-7. Email, voice mail and cell phones have robbed us of the ability to walk away from our lives, if only for a moment, to recharge our batteries.
Employers are no longer content with employees who do one thing well. Instead we are not only expected to know our jobs but also the technology that supports it. In other words, we need to be computer and web literate, operate a variety of electronic equipment, provide our own tech support and be competent typists. Remember the secretary whose primary purpose used to be to take a letter and answer the phone?
Remember naps?This level of stress takes a tremendous toll on our lives and on the environment around us. People used to nap in the afternoon if it got too hot. They'd sleep when it was dark, curl up by the fire to stay warm when it was too cold to venture outside. Now it doesn't matter if it's 30 degrees above zero, or 30 degrees below.
Thanks to SUVs and mini-vans, steel-belted radials and airbags, even getting around is no longer a problem. And when time is tight, we use these gas-guzzling vehicles as our own personal mobile time machines, putting the pedal to the metal when we need to save a few precious moments, and burn even more fossil fuel in the process.
The solution isn't to try and figure out how to cram even more into our over-stressed lives. The solution, according to author Carl Honore, is to go slow. In the introduction to his website, www.inpraiseofslow.com, Honore writes, "These days, many of us live in fast forward - and pay a heavy price for it. Our work, health and relationships suffer. Over-stimulated, over-scheduled and overwrought, we struggle to relax, to enjoy things properly, to spend time with family and friends.
"The Slow movement offers a lifeline. It is not a Luddite plot to abolish all things modern. You don't have to shun technology, live in the wilderness or do everything at a snail's pace. Being 'Slow' means living better in the hectic modern world by striking a balance between fast and slow."
Easily enough said, but how? Honore's website is a start. Unlike most web pages that are overloaded with links and graphics and headlines, the home page is beautiful in its simplicity. It features one paragraph of text, slowly changing images of peaceful scenes like trees in the mist and the earth from space, and a simple side bar containing resource links.
Turnoff NetworkOne link in particular that caught my attention was the Turnoff Network; a US based non-profit whose goal is to encourage people to watch less television. The best part about this website is the facts sheets that document how television has twisted our perspective and our priorities while stealing precious time in the process.
For example, while parents spend a reported 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children, they waste an average of four hours per day watching the TV. And then we're shocked when 54 per cent of children aged four to six would rather watch television than talk with their fathers. Sad, but true.
Other links include Slow Food, a site that educates in the matters of taste, the Slow Cities movement, a group of towns and cities committed to improving the quality of life of their citizens, Super Slow, a safer and more productive way to exercise that's proven to reduce injury, and a link to the Society for the Deceleration of Time. There's even an Italian language website dedicated to Slow Sex.
Honore has also written a book, In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, Knopf Canada, (May 2004), which documents the emerging slow movement around the world. This is one book that I'm actually going to find the time to read.
Recommended websites:Honore's website and all of the related links noted above can be found at www.inpraiseofslow.com.
I was so inspired by Honore's website that I found a few slow websites on my own:
Slow Travelers stay longer in one place and get to know the area in depth. www.slowtrav.com.
Slowlane.com is the searchable online reference, resource and network for Stay At Home Dads (SAHD) and their families. www.slowlane.com
www.deepsloweasy.com is an alternative exercise site with a message.
For a soundtrack to accompany a slower, richer lifestyle, check out the truly amazing Mystic Radio (www.mysticradio.com). Described as "music for the rest of us", Mystic Radio offers new age and alternative music 24/7 - at no charge. Enjoy.
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