Friday, May 29, 2009

Deceleration

As a teenager trying to find my way in the world, I read every self-help book I could get my hands on. I was a boring shy nerd at the time, so I was hoping they would give me tips on becoming a dynamic popular success instead. A lot of the advice I got was rather dopy, like picturing magnetic waves emanating from my eyes and always walking on the sunny side of the street. But a recommendation almost all of them gave was to walk and act briskly. One book I still have says to "walk 20% faster" so people will see me as a man who is "going somewhere." Another one even gave me the speed I should travel -- 120 steps a minute -- and urged me to walk like "General Pershing was in the reviewing stand" (ok, it was an older book).

Later on, when I went to an institution of higher learning that taught "not just how to earn a living, but how to live," the professors exhorted us to "drive, drive, drive!" and "be manly, unstoppable, dynamic (but humble) men" among other things. Out in the go-go, greed-is-good working world of the '80's and 90's speed was of the essence. I needed to "give 110%," "do more with less," "work smarter AND harder," and mutli-task, mutli-task, mutli-task like my life depended on it. Which it did, if we assume eating is important to life.

I bought into this stuff for a while, but now, at the tender age of 51, I think it's all hooey. I think the world is broken, speeding along like a mindless, ever-accelerating runaway missile, our minds fizzing, our sight narrowing into social tunnel-vision as the mounting G forces squeeze all the blood from our brains.

I'm opting for the old ways; not the ways without science and technology, but the ways without mindnumbing, high-voltage rush and rampage. As much as possible I am choosing the path of calmness, of serenity, of spirituality and human relationships. I choose the way of long dinners with family and craftsmanship in my work. I want vacations where we stop and look at things instead of racing to reach our hotel by nightfall. Perhaps we will reach our destination by not going anywhere at all.

In short, I'm joining The Slow Movement. It was first called that in reaction to the 'Fast Food' our civillization is so addicted to, but we have been around ever since things began moving too fast. Today, numerous people are a part of our movement. In fact, a World Day of Slowness will occur on the 21st of June. Why don't you go to a quiet place... and celebrate.

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