In the last few days I was reading a book titled – ‘In Praise of Slow’. I picked up this book at the local store mainly because of the title which was rather eye catching. Eye catching because most of blurbs we see in the media, the books we read are about speed, doing things at a faster pace, eating foods hurriedly, juggling with multiple schedules all at once, reading 200 blogs daily, trying to chalk out every slot of the day etc.
The author, Carl Honore. , puts a case for slow moment and also gives several instances of groups who are side stepping from the hurried life to the life of slowness.
It is often true that even though we slice and dice the time intervals in a day , and have a feeling that we are in control of the time, more often than not, we realize the time starts controlling us. The importance that we attach to time is clearly evident in our food habits. Since we want to accomplish the task of eating food in our so called schedule, going for fast food saves time, even though the long term consequences are bad like obesity etc.
If one looks at the evolution of time importance, one can begin from the agrarian times when people used to refer time for sowing, harvesting activities , the tasks which decided their bread and butter in their lives. Thereafter, the industrial revolution escalated the importance of time to greater heights by embedding it in almost every activity of life like, the time one starts to get on the job , the time when the shift ends, the time when one needs to do various activities in a shift were all controlled by time piece. Benjamin Franklin’s statement ‘Time is Money’ was manifested clearly in the work practices, compensation procedures, professional and personal lives for everyone.
Should one necessarily give so much importance to time ? even going to a vacation has become stressful nowadays with people checking in various hotels, trying to maximize the time they have at their disposal, logging on to internet every now and then so as to check their emails that they would have missed, checking their voice mails etc. People nowadays have stopped enjoying their vacation also!! giving rise to the term vacationitis! . Is time linear ? The concept of linear time has made maximizers in the words of Barry Schwartz" The paradox of choice" We tend to maximize everything assuming the time is a finite resource. As I type I realize that I should be sending a mail to one of my friends giving instructions for dual boot – windows on MAC. Many of us are a victim of this time maximizing behavior. It is inherently not bad, but because bad when applied universally to all the occasions.
What does being slow help in ? It helps in introspection, helps to charge up our energies and lets us focus on the activity which we have not been doing for some time. In the book, the author takes us through various facets of our life and gives instances world wide over , where movement for slow is beginning to sink in for a lot of people. It also shows how increasingly people are seeking for TEMP GIUSTO, the right speed in their lives by slowing down a few activities.
First aspect, the author touches upon is the FOOD . Carlo Petrini , a man from Italy was fed up of the fast foods that were entering in to the country and felt that he has start something to preserve a wide variety of food making, food eating habits, and so started "Slow Foods" . Founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986, Slow Food is an international association that promotes food and wine culture, but also defends food and agricultural biodiversity worldwide. (see our History Section). It opposes the standardization of taste, defends the need for consumer information, protects cultural identities tied to food and gastronomic traditions, safeguards foods and cultivation and processing techniques inherited from tradition and defend domestic and wild animal and vegetable species
Second aspect, the author touches upon is Cities. The cities are the modern symbols of pace, hurriedness, indifference, etc. In today’s cities, people are hurrying up their entire lives and thus yearning to bring slowness in to their activities. Alas! not everyone is able to. However, there is a new Citta Slow movement which is taking shape amongst a lot of countries. There are 55 Pledges that any Citta Slow city should take so as to form a part of Citta Slow movement.
Third aspect , the author touches upon is Work. It is so very necessary to keep slowing down to recharge oneself that most of the working professionals forget and get burnt out. However there are a number of countries which have taken up the slow movement. In France , Netherlands there is a culture of 35 hour working weeks where the weekend begin from Thursday itself . In some european countries, email less Fridays are also followed. A very well known origanization SAS works only 35 hours per week and look at what it has achieved over the last 20 years.
The fourth aspect which the author touches upon is Parenting , where in this world , a child is hurried through so many schedules that he just skims the surface of many skills and fails to appreciate the depth of each of the activity . On paper he might be doing so many aspects, but as such his heart might be in none of the activity. All our minds should have a empty space, which will do a similar task like empty box in a 4 by 4 square game , i.e rotate other pieces. Unless we have some empty space , it is difficult to come up with new thoughts. People in some countries are realizing this and taking steps to avoid the hurried learning. Finland for example has a rule that children enter school at 6 and preschool at 7.There is a lot of room for unstructured play and a new jargon is entering the lives of Finnish. ASLAP – As slow as possible.
The author touches on aspects like Sex lives, Medical field, Mind/Body( Slow studio instead of aerobics and gymns) and Entertainment, where the impact of the slowness has been realized by many people are taking advantages of the same.
After reading various aspects that the author very cogently puts across and makes a case for slowness, the effect on me is immediate. I am typing this post at a lesser speed, I am not trying to think what time it took me to put in this blog entry, nor am I trying to already visualize what I would be doing after writing this post. Yeah! My schedule which I had put in place a few days back is starting at me….but what the heck!! I will instead take a stroll in my neighborhood.
It is one of those books that I should have read much earlier..Anyway past is past…I would atleast try to implement some of the stuff mentioned in the book