I once read about the Slow Movement, founded over 20 years ago by Italian Carlo Petrini, and I thought, slow what??? How could anyone choose to live life on the slow lane and watch the world pass them by? Well, my shoulder injury and recent surgery forced me to have a taste of slow life when I was grounded for six weeks; I literally mean grounded at home – never once in that time did I walk past my front gate. This experience made me reflect about the fast life we lead and the rat race most of us seem to thrive on.
Today, I feel like becoming an advocate of slowing down our lives, thus embracing the slow movement. As one who has lived on the fast lane, always on the move trying to achieve a million and one things, and most days not even having time to relax or enjoy a meal, I now know what it is like in the slow lane.
All my life, I have had no time for slow people – those who take forever to complete one small task and cannot multitask. Why can’t they learn to be on the phone and on the computer while watching TV and eating, all at the same time? The ‘superwoman’ in me couldn’t fathom how one could do only a limited number of things in a day, and for that matter in slow motion. I have been on the slow lane and can tell you it’s not such a bad place if you get there voluntarily and not be forced by circumstances.
When you become obsessed with living life on the fast lane, you may not realise it at the time but everything suffers – your health, relationships, and your diet. Many are the times I live on coffee and tea or a fruit on the go because I don’t get a moment for a proper meal. I regret the many friends I have abandoned over the years because I have been too busy.
In the six weeks I have been confined to my house, I have learnt to chew food; seriously, I gobbled food before to get over with eating and do more important things. I have learnt to do one thing at a time; with only one hand I didn’t have a choice, yet before my phone would be glued to the ear, my fingers fast and furious on the keyboard and still have the TV on not to miss the breaking news! Yet in those six weeks, I still did my work, albeit slowly with one finger but the typing was more accurate so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time spellchecking. I have actually found myself noticing, appreciating and enjoying many things I previously took for granted.
The Slow Movement I mentioned earlier is about taking time to enjoy the things that give us pleasure; it’s about reconnecting with food, people and places. It advocates for balance. Instead of doing everything faster, doing it at the right speed – not driving at 120kph when you will still get there at 80. The Slow Movement is about creating a more enjoyable life, while achieving all the important goals in your life. It is not about laziness, but working smartly and letting yourself live in the moment and enjoying it.
And let me tell you the truth, I am now sold to this movement. I want to change my life to a lower gear so I can enjoy the things I missed while in the fast lane. I want to enjoy my garden, have time for a dip in the pool, relax in the steam and sauna bath, get a massage, spend more time with my family, have my friends come over for an afternoon of catching up and enjoying the good old cup of tea, or simply lounging in the verandah with a good book. I want to read at least half of the books in my library, which I have bought over the years with the intention of reading but have never had time to do so. I want to become more practical by not being so busy that I don’t get the time for the things that really matter. I am certainly going to change my pace so I can have time to smell the roses, hear the birds sing and count my blessings.
Making a change to slow down may seem like accepting you are growing old or have lost energy, but these kinds of thoughts can only bring fear, and when you are afraid you avoid confronting yourself and reality. You shouldn’t feel guilty for not having a ‘to-do-list’ with a million and one things – just do what is necessary and what you can do with pleasure and enjoyment. Learn to delegate and remember nobody is indispensable. When you slow down you give full attention to what you are doing – if it’s time to eat, let it be time to eat; if it’s time to sit down with your partner and just have a good chat, let that be the only thing on your agenda – no TV, no phone calls.
I know it will not be that easy making this transformation but I am determined. I have made a promise to myself that my life will have to change. I want to enjoy life and not just be obsessed with achieving more and more.