“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost…”
I find myself living life in the slow lane these days.
Overnight, the leaves on my Crape Myrtles and Chinese Pistaches are flaming red and orange. December is only one day away. Where did November go?
I think of myself as a goal-oriented person, but what used to be a direct path from point A to point B is now a more wandering path. I still have goals, I just don’t put as much stock in the outcomes, or getting there quickly.
What are the tell-tale symptoms of living too fast? Carl Honoré, author of IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS describes the plight of being stuck in fast-forward mode.
“When you feel tired all the time and like you’re just going through the motions, getting through the many things on your To-Do list but not engaging with them deeply or enjoying them very much. You don’t remember things as vividly when you rush through them. You feel like you’re racing through your life instead of actually living it. Illnesses are often the body’s way of saying “Enough already, slow down!’”
The slow movement is catching on. People are searching for more depth and meaning in their lives.
The media poked fun at music icon Sting when he spoke of slow, Tantric-style sex, but now, men and women all over the world are flocking to workshops to learn the lost spiritual art of unhurried lovemaking. Anecdotal evidence suggests that recession-hit lovers are staying home and making more time for intimacy.
The growing popularity of organic street markets suggests that we may be tiring of fast and prepared, processed food. Instead, we’re choosing to buy the freshest, finest ingredients to cook our own meals.
Yoga, qi-gong and meditation are all burgeoning disciplines which encourage us to slow down in our bodies and minds, with classes are springing up all over the world. Slowing our minds and bodies affords us with the time and tranquility needed for self-reflection and heart-understanding.
Scientific evidence also shows that multi-tasking, once the darling of the productive set, actually wastes time. Says Honoré, “Much of what passes for multitasking is nothing of the sort: it is sequential toggling between activities. And the research suggests that this flitting back and forth is actually very unproductive: tasks can take more than twice as long to complete when performed in this way.”
Our hectic, stressful lives can keep our cortisol levels high, and there is medical evidence to support that prolonged elevated levels of cortisol, the flight or fight hormone, decreases our health and mental functioning. This “stress” hormone can have many adverse effects on the body over time. Shawn Talbott, author of THE CORTISOL CONNECTION, says that persistent, high levels of cortisol cause healthy bone and muscles to become weak and fragile. Cell regeneration is decelerated, and the body’s ability to heal itself and ward off illness is impaired. Too much cortisol hinders digestion and metabolism, causing stomach disorders and weight gain. It may also cause disorders such as Cushing’s syndrome and fibromyalgia. Fortune 500 companies are investing in stress management seminars for their employees. Stress is very expensive. It’s estimated that American businesses lose $200-$300 billion a year to stress-related productivity losses.
Our children are especially affected by a lack of slowness. Children, even more than adults, need unscheduled, unhurried time to daydream. Instead, they are texting, listening to their iPods, and talking on their cell phones–all while doing myriad other things. God Forbid they should ever be bored! We also push our children to be successful. They have soccer practice, t-ball practice, tutoring, music lessons, AND hours of homework, but little or no time to play and imagine. Albert Einstein, who was one of the world’s greatest minds, said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
We’re in a hurry nowadays to get wherever we’re going fast, but where will we end up, when all is said and done? Why not live the fullest, richest life possible, making the most of every moment, so that when it’s over, we know it was a life well-spent? Any month spent this way is never lost. The most valuable accomplishment is enjoying the process.
So grind your own coffee beans. Take a walk in your neighborhood. Love your intimate partner without getting hung up on on what you’re doing or where you’re going.
As Mae West said, “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly.”