Friday, 19 April 2013

Howe do you do... slow?

"To make the most of our time, and to avoid boredom, we fill up every spare moment with mental stimulation. When did you last sit in a chair, close your eyes and just relax?"
Carl Honoré - In Praise of Slow

I had this book on my 'must read' list for, I'd say a couple of years. 

Then I got ill and I also got the time to read it (I know). So I read it and it made PERFECT sense. My life since becoming a parent had propelled at a speed that was always just slightly faster than what felt comfortable, enough to engage a perpetual low-level stress.

I'd like to share some extracts with you, perhaps it might mean something to you too. When I'd finished the book, I thought YES!... but people are going to take more than a little convincing. Speed is too appealing a concept to easily usurp. As Honoré brings to our attention, check out what the dictionary has to say about slow: 'dull, uninteresting, slack, sluggish, tedious' - slowness is going to need a serious image change! He points out that so too did organic food, it's not beyond the realm of possibility for the world to embrace the concept and even one day sell slowness instead of its counterpart. I thought - what can I do? 

So I decided to create a Pay It Forward Project and bought ten copies. Each book has a little memo inside the cover instructing that once its read, could its reader please Pay It Forward. There's no pressure, no time restrictions, it may hang around on book shelves for years until the time is right. 

If you would like to be involved, I still have some copies to Pay Forward. You can email me your postal address at: and I'll send you a copy - its absolutely free! And to those I've already promised one to, they're on their way. If they've all gone, BUY IT, it's truly an investment and Honoré deserves our money. Oh and let me know what you think, if you like. He has also penned a sequel The Slow Fix, which I'm currently reading and is so far living up to expectations...

'Tempted and titillated at every turn, we seek to cram in as much consumption and as many experiences as possible. As well as glittering careers, we want to take art courses, work out at the gym, read the newspaper and every book on the bestseller list, eat out with friends, go clubbing, play sports, watch hours of television, listen to music, spend time with the family, buy all the newest fashions and gadgets, go to the cinema, enjoy intimacy and great sex with our partners, holiday in far-flung destinations and maybe even do some meaningful volunteer work. The result is a gnawing disconnect between what we want from life and what we can realistically have, which feeds the sense that there is never enough time."

Honoré talks about the beginning of time, not time, time, the beginning of clocks. It hadn't really occurred to me that clocks at some point didn't exist. Apparently it was 1370 where: 'in the space of one generation, the people of Cologne went from never knowing for sure what time it was, to allowing a clock to dictate when they worked, how long they took for lunch and when they went home at night." That's a lifestyle gear-change even an iphone can't compete with!

He also talks of the letter entitled Slow Down, that goes out to all Harvard freshmen: "Empty time is not a vacuum to be filled," the Dean writes "it is the thing that enables the other things on your mind to be creatively rearranged, like the empty square in the 4 x 4 puzzle that makes it possible to move the other 15 pieces around."

Through his research, from the advent of clocks, through slow food, slow music, slow sex, slowing down the mind and body to raising unhurried children, Honoré gives you ample enough reason to believe that 'you can be slow and and still be successful'. 

Now I'm starting to pick up strands of my life again, it is important to me not to fall into old habits. Strolling back form the supermarket today, feeling harried, I took a moment to breathe. What am I rushing for? Ah yes, nothing. I have all the time in the world. Well a couple of hours till 3pm anyways ;0)