In Praise Of Slowness – Carl Honoré
Why do we always seem to be in a rush? How is time sickness treated? Is it possible to slow down, or even desirable?
The problem with speed
Making time finite and then imposing speed on all facets of life is a Western disease.
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The human desire for transcendence is really what drives our desire for speed.
Because it’s unpleasant to consider that we will eventually pass away, we constantly look for ways to divert our attention from this reality. One method of distraction is speed, with the sensory thrill it provides.
Community, family, and friendship are all things that bring us together and make life worthwhile. They all depend on the one resource we can never have enough of: time.
You have to pedal faster and faster to keep up with how quickly time is passing and how little there is of it.
The world is suffering from a time sickness these days and it may be a sign of a more serious existential ailment.
A Superficial Life
Life in a hurry inevitably has a tendency to become shallow. Rushing causes us to only scratch the surface and prevents us from truly connecting with the world or other people.
We no longer know how to anticipate things and how to savor the moment when they do.
We have lost the skill of doing nothing, of blocking out background noise and distractions, of slowing down, and of just being by ourselves with our thoughts in this social media-soaked, data-rich, computer-gaming age.
The world is speeding up
The world continues to put tremendous pressure on itself to complete tasks more quickly, at great cost. There is ample evidence of the harm caused by the hurry-up culture. The planet and we as a species are being pushed to burnout. We neglect our friends, families, and romantic partners because we are time-sick and time-poor.
Due to our constant focus on what will come next, we hardly know how to enjoy things any more. We consume a lot of bland and unhealthy food. With our children caught in the same hailstorm of hurry, the future appears bleak.
Our relationship with time
If we are ever going to slow down, we need to know why we started accelerating in the first place and why the world became so frantic and scheduled. And in order to do that, we must look at our relationship with time itself from the very beginning.
Hurry and haste crept into every aspect of life as time passed more quickly and technology made everything possible. Everyone was expected to work, think, and complete tasks more quickly.
As a result, there is a gnawing gap between what we want out of life and what is actually possible, which contributes to the belief that there is never enough time.
Time is actually cyclical
The way we perceive time itself may be a contributing factor to the issue.
Time is cyclical in Chinese, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. Inuit people on Canada’s Baffin Island use the same word, uvatiarru, to refer to both the distant past and the distant future.
Both yesterday and tomorrow are referred to by the Hindu word Kal.
In these cultures, time never stops coming and going. It is always present and constantly renewing, just like the air we breathe. Time is linear in Western culture, like an arrow that flies mercilessly from point A to point B. Because it is limited, it is a priceless resource.
The two different frame rates of life
The terms “Fast and Slow” refer to more than just the rate of change.
Fast is occupied, demanding, hostile, hurried, analytical, stressed, naive, impatient, and jittery.
The exact opposite of hurried is slow: calm, cautious, receptive, still, intuitive, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity. Real and meaningful connections must be made with people, culture, the workplace, food, and everything else.
The paradox of slow and the love for speed
The paradox is that “slow” is not always synonymous with “slow.” Often, taking your time to complete a task will result in quicker results. It’s also feasible to act quickly while keeping a slow pace of thought.
Speed has played a wonderful and liberating role in the transformation of our world. Without the Internet or air travel, who would want to survive?
The issue is that our obsession with completing tasks faster and faster has become out of control; it has morphed into an addiction and a form of drug.
The invisible movement
The Slow Movement is still forming. It does not have a central headquarters or website, a single leader, or a political party to spread its message.
Many people choose to slow down without ever feeling like they are part of a cultural movement, let alone a global crusade. What matters is that a growing minority prefers slowness to speed. Every act of deceleration adds to the slow movement momentum.