It’s a paradox that as my lifespan grows shorter, instead of speeding up to fit in as much as I can before leaving this mortal coil, I crave for ‘slow’ – a slowing down to savour life’s experiences.
This was, in fact, a theme for a recent trip away to the Sydney Writers’ and Vivid festivals. We resolved to ‘savour’ the experience. Well, two of our group consciously decided on this approach, and over the few days we had, we did savour the experiences.
What did this mean? It meant not running from event to event to fit in as many sessions as we could in the limited time we had. It meant not expecting to see every aspect the festivals were offering. It meant being flexible enough to change plans according to mood as we did when lingering in the Chinese Gardens.
Primarily it meant not embracing the idea of FOMO (fear of missing out). But rather, appreciating fully what we were experiencing.
I think as a society, we can become so intent on fitting in as much as possible, that we deny ourselves the opportunity to ‘be in the moment’.
My morning walks are a conscious effort to ‘be’ in every moment – a kind of moving meditation. I see more, feel more, and so, appreciate more.
I might have missed an encounter with this beautiful butterfly otherwise. Or, overlooked the way the light caught the ripples on the river, or missed the metamorphosis of tadpoles into froglets.
“Alice: How long is forever? White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.”
― Lewis Carroll,
This ‘slow movement’ is not new and appears to be gaining momentum. It has a growing number of expressions including the producing, preparing and enjoying of food, slow cities, slow clothes and even slow travel among a growing list of other ‘slows’. The slow part of the exercise allows time to stretch as each second is lived in a conscious and fully aware way. On a recent ABC radio program Future Tense, author, Carl Honore explained:
‘The world’, he said, ‘was living in fast-forward and most of us were in danger of become addicts. I think it’s reached a stage now where we have become speed junkies … when we suddenly find ourselves with a moment of silence or quiet, we fidget, and panic, and start shifting around looking for something else to plug that space, that void, and I think that we’ve kind of lost the ability just to stop and to reflect and to be quiet and still.’
I would add to this, the doing of things in a mindful manner – like being actively present in nature or having one’s hands in the soil working to make a garden, which in their necessity for patience and close observation, have always been slow exercises for me.
Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it. Rumi