A case for SLOW LIVING in a world going at breakneck speed
Slow down: This verb has become a key part of a city-dwelling vocabulary, used by exhausted urbanites worn out by the race against the clock. In its role as a symbol of a new way of living, slowness – not to be confused with laziness – invites us to share, indulge, and take pleasure in time.
The days of rushing around are over, and the age of the tortoise is upon us as recent trends champion leisure over lightspeed. We are encouraged to take our time, instead of hurtling through it. Breaks are back in fashion, heralding a new way of thinking, living, and being.
The “slow food” movement was launched in 1986 by Italian gourmet Carlo Petrini in reaction to the rise of fast food, and the resulting mindset has now moved far beyond the dinner table.
The idea of putting our feet up has been the subject of a many studies, and has also inspired books on how exactly to do it*. The concept praised by philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists has found a loyal following in diverse groups, from fashion designers and Silicon Valley tech wizards to management gurus, rappers (“slow life isn’t no life,” sings Oxmo Puccino), and the overworked city-slickers with whom we can all identify.
Far from being just a fad with an accompanying multitude of contraptions – one of the latest being a “slow watch” – the notion is gradually permeating every facet of our daily lives. Some 20 places have been awarded a “slow city” label, and “slow management” has made its way into the open-space lexicon with a new generation of decisionmakers now organizing “concentration bubbles.”
Regardless of the mode of transport chosen – as long as it’s easy-going – “slow tourism” enthusiasts have taken to traveling on foot, by bike, on horseback, and even by freight train, rating the best trips by the people they meet instead of the countless sights seen. This group has been joined by “slow parents,” who refuse to run themselves ragged trying to keep up with their kids’ busy schedules, and instead extoll the virtues of idleness. “Slow health” is another burgeoning field in which plants and mindful meditation are given priority over handfuls of hurriedly swallowed pills, and “slow sex” offers a chilled alternative to the rush of modern romantic life.
Toning down the tempo has become an act of resistance against the diktats of the ever-faster, and spending time on time is now the golden rule of a new way of living by listening to our own individual aspirations.
And it’s not too soon! According to a recent study entitled French people and modern life, some 68% of France’s citizens suffer from the mental overload and whirlwind rhythm that can come to define their existence.
It’s no surprise that with the lightning-fast developments in technology, humans have been living faster and faster for the last 100 years. And this constant connectivity has almost driven us to breaking point.
This explains our need to rekindle our lifeforce by relearning what it means to desire, contemplate, share, create, and dream. And much to our surprise, we often discover that slow living can even save us time!
Of course, it has to be said there is no quick fix to our speedy living problem. Detox specialists claim it takes an average of one month before, step by step, we start to relax, slow down, and finally find our own personal rhythm.
*Faster, by James Gleick;
Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser;
In Praise of Idleness, by Bertrand Russel;
The Discovery of Slowness, by Sten Nadolny;
Slowness, by Milan Kundera.
Exergue: “Humans have been living faster and faster for 100 years.