Much has been made lately of the importance of taking one’s time — and for good reason. Most of us have been in a such a big, fat hurry for so long, we hardly know how to move at anything but top speed.
Wearied by our unrelenting rush-a-day world, however, some of us are now acquiring a new appetite for slowness.
We’re coming to understand the merits of things like Slow Food and slow, deep breathing. Slow-flow yoga has won millions of new fans over the past decade, and time-consuming old-school crafts like knitting, sewing and scrapbooking are all the rage.
Unexpectedly large audiences of armchair slow-downers have snapped up copies of in-the-moment reads like Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. Lost-art traditional methods of Slow Beer brewing and Slow Building are enjoying a surprising comeback (my handcrafted-log-home-builder husband happens to be a huge fan of both).
I recently heard about Slow Gardening. There’s even a Slow Coffee shop not far from our magazine’s office. Their latte is so extraordinary I recently wrote a gushing blog about it (blogs.experiencelife.com/i-beg-to-differ).
Clearly, some things are worth slowing down for or (gasp!) even waiting and working for. But let’s face it: As much as we might want to slow down certain aspects of our lives, there are still plenty of things most of us would prefer to get done as quickly and easily as possible.
Who among us hasn’t wished a meeting or conversation would come to its conclusion just a little more rapidly? Who hasn’t spent hours slaving away at some mundane chore when we’d much rather be doing something else? Who hasn’t struggled for years — or even decades — to make some kind of challenging life change, and then to make it stick?
Naturally, no one wants to wish his or her life away. And it’s worth keeping in mind that any and every moment can be a precious moment. In fact, when we look back on our lives, it’s often the times we were doing nothing of huge apparent importance that wind up counting the most.
Then again, since the quality of our lives ultimately reflects the quality of our moments, neither do most of us relish the idea of squandering our time on tasks and frustrations that rob us of more rewarding experiences.
I was at a workshop recently where the presenter asked two volunteers to hold the ends of a long red ribbon that she unfurled across the front of the room. It represented the average life span of a U.S. adult, she said — about 80 years. She then asked what we thought the average age of the people in the room might be. We guessed about 40.
Holding a large scissors, she then walked to the middle of the ribbon and cut it in half. Holding the newly snipped end of the ribbon, she asked the volunteer who’d been left holding the dead part of the ribbon to come grasp the new end. Gesturing to the now much-shorter ribbon, she said: “This is about how much time most of us have left to live.”
That was alarming. But then she snipped again, and again — for the hours we’d spend working and sleeping, and for the time we’d spend sitting in traffic, waiting in line and so forth. By the time she was finished with her infernal scissoring, the two volunteers were left standing uncomfortably close, and most of us were left staring our own mortality right in the face.
The message was simple: For better or worse, most of our moments are already spoken for. So what are we going to do with the remaining time we have to spend as we wish? And how can each of us make sure that more of our moments are bringing us the meaning, joy and satisfaction we hope for?
It is with that question in mind that we put together this issue of Experience Life. We wanted to celebrate smarter, faster, easier ways of doing things — not merely for the sake of expediency, but in the spirit of honoring the real value of the moments each of us can choose to spend or “save” at our discretion.
Speaking of time, this summer Experience Life enters its 10th year of publication. Amazing. To celebrate, we’re redesigning! You’ll be seeing some exciting new changes in the September issue. Of course, I’d love to show you now. But I guess we’ll all just have to wait.
Here’s to savoring summer!