“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
There are many things in life that are better when they happen faster. Internet connections and pizza delivery are among the first things that come to mind. But not everything is best served by a need for speed.
As someone who’s started driving a car again after a long hiatus, I’ve become very conscious of speed. It’s certainly faster to take a car to a destination, but is it always the best way to go? Having spent a great deal of time on buses and on foot to get to where I want to go, I’m accustomed to puttering along at a relatively modest rate of speed. However, that rate of speed requires me to lose sleep and leave home a lot earlier to get places on time, and it’s absolutely no fun waiting for a bus in the pouring rain. Car travel is more convenient and efficient, and faster, no question. And yet there’s a good argument to make for doing things the slow way.
When I entered the word ‘slow’ as a search term in the library catalogue I was rewarded with some great books outlining the joys of life in the slow lane:
While this book focuses on small farms in California, the ideas presented can be applied anywhere. Buying fruits, vegetables and meats that are not chemically treated, and taking the time to prepare and enjoy a meal, as opposed to grabbing fast food and eating on the run, is far better for your physical and emotional well-being. And as the contributors to the book point out, making these kinds of choices on a local level can have far reaching economic and ecological impacts.
Following up on the local food idea, you can’t get much more local than your own backyard or community garden plot. But gardening has its own need for speed – the race between your slowly ripening tomatoes and the weeds that threaten to overtake them. Author Felder Rushing shows even novice gardeners how to work with your garden, not race against time.
In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman shares his insights into how humans think, both fast and slow, and how using only the fast track to decision making can blind us to the opportunities a slower, more reasoned approach can reveal. Fast thinking and decision making has value, certainly, but it’s not the only way to go, as I found out after (slowly) reading this book.
Eric Carle is one of my all-time favourite writers and illustrators, and he uses both of those talents to great effect in this book. The speech near the end, when the sloth uses a wonderful variety of words to describe himself and how he likes to do things, is one a way of living I’d like to adopt for myself.
In our modern age of haste and hurry, sometimes you just need to walk, not drive, to get to where you need to be. After losing almost everything precious in her life, Cheryl just needed to…walk. And walk she did, hiking alone through three states and over eleven hundred miles of wilderness trails. Sometimes the slow way is the only way.
If you really want to get to know a city, taking a leisurely stroll is the best method. Walking tours can offer a view of buildings and places you just can’t truly appreciate from behind the wheel of a car or even while looking out a bus window. You could go on self guided tours at the Forks, or you could check out a guided tour of the Exchange District. Or how about a look at the amazing murals in the West End? You just can’t rush through experiences like that, and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll see.
Ripping off a bandage. Getting an income tax return. These things are better when they’re done quickly. Keep in mind, though, that life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind.