For author Carl Honore, reading bed time stories to his five year old son Benjamin was a “gladiatorial clash of wills” between the journalist writer dad’s “speed” and his son’s desire for “slowness.” When he spotted a collection of condensed classic fairy tales, The One Minute Bedtime Story, it seemed a tailor made solution—the “Hans Christian Anderson meets executive summary” to deal with “time consuming tiny tots.” It was a turning point in Honore’s life that caused him to reconsider his relationship to speed and its impact on his life.
“Suddenly it hit me: my rushaholism had got so out of hand that I was even willing to speed up those precious moments with my children at the end of the day. There has to be a better way, I thought, because living in fast forward is not really living at all. That’s why I began investigating the possibility of slowing down,” says Carl Honore, best selling author of In Praise of Slow, a critique of the cult of speed that sprung from the author living life in the fast lane.
Slow is beautiful. Eknath Easwaran in Take Your Time reflects on the wisdom of a life of being over that of incessant doing. He writes, “We need time simply to be quiet now and then. There is an inner stillness which is healing, which makes us uiet now and then. There is an inner stillness which is healing, which makes us more sensitive and gives us an opportunity to see life whole.”
The term slow is associated with pejorative connotations in the mainstream. The Oxford English Dictionary defines slow as not quick, dull or tedious. We speak of slow learners, slow decline, slow growth, or slow death. Certainly speed is the mantra of the contemporary world. We live in cult of speed. The silicone chip era is certainly one of “instant gratifications”, “short attention spans,” and “Two minute” noodles. Living as we do under the tyranny of time, the clock always calls the shots in the road runner culture. We thus live a life of acceleration and “velocitisation” or addiction to speed. The dehumanising effects of a life of hurry is evident in a life lived superficially; by default.
Slow has become the operational word even in the kind of writing and reading that are my current passions. From an information junkie, I am now selective in what I choose to read. Instead of mindless TV watching, I prefer Slow Reading: a close and nuanced reading of books that nourish the Spirit and I jot down my reflections in a journal. By slowing down judiciously and approaching work with mindfulness, any work I do is more joyful: Be it cooking (Yes, Slow Cooking!) or enjoying the company of Goldie, my Golden Retriever!
From a fringe idea that once seemed Bohemian, the Slow Movement is moving towards being integrated into mainstream. Like an eagle in mid air, my Slow Life has enabled me move towards finding that elusive balance—of that moment when our lives are in harmony with our innermost desires; between the head and the heart; between values and action; between the right and left brain; between our inner and outer selves.