I was on twitter one evening and I saw some tweets by JJ. Omojuwa that went like this:
“If you sleep consistently for an average of 8 hours per day this year, you’d have slept for full 4 months out of 12 months in 2016”
“And if you are a young person and you are doing 8 hours of sleep every day, you better make sure your money is making money while you sleep”.
Sigh. The first thing that ran through my mind was “please, get out of my head” because I know how reading such things tend to stick and true to form I saw myself calculating my sleeping hours, I discovered that I sleep for 6 and not 8 hours but knowing even that didn’t give me any relief. I went to bed that night feeling like the 6 hours was also a waste of several months of the year and all through the week I was nagged by the idea that I don’t really have money that is making me money, neither have I mastered the act of holding off sleep in order to work on money making projects in the way that authors of such tweets have.
Ours is a world that lays great emphasis on speed, doing everything as fast as is possible, rushing and racing, trying to catch up with or outrun time. We feel very useful when we’re busy, we feel like we’re making progress when our schedule and to-do list are packed full with activities….but, “beware the barrenness of a busy life” Socrates said. When did we get so fast? When did doing everything as fast and quickly as possible become more desirable than slowing down? Doesn’t all the hurry make us hurt? Even with how busy the day gets we still wish we can buy more time, has anyone ever noticed how we mostly wish for more time when it comes to doing the little things that actually add colour and meaning to our lives? Could it be that time isn’t actually running like we think but we only got faster? The busy life can disguise itself as a good thing what with the adrenalin rush, the heady feeling which makes us feel invincible and the cockiness that sometimes follows when we’re ahead of the pack, but cramming more and more into less and less time can also, albeit unbeknownst to us, become a way of walling ourselves off from confronting our lives and asking ourselves the bigger, deeper questions.
The word “slow” is often used to describe a person who is seen as dumb, sometimes a buzzkill, a lazy person, an uninteresting event, a simpleton can even be thrown in, it appears to be anything but a positive word. Yes, I know there is such a thing as “bad slow” but there is also “good slow” and that is what I’m advocating for today. Bad slow is often used and talked about so much that it overshadows the positive part of the word to the point that slowing down and admitting that one needs to slow down is a hard thing to do. I’m making a case for “slowing down”, not because I want to give myself an excuse for maybe not being as equipped to prosper and accomplish great things as everyone else who is busy trying to outrun time seems to be, but because I’m tired of going through each day hearing this buzz, relentlessly chipping away at my mind, telling me that I’m not doing it fast enough, I’m not achieving fast enough and I’m not competing with my yesterday well enough forgetting that I don’t even really remember my yesterday as well as I should because I was busy rushing through every second only to catch up with today. I’ve heard different versions of what it means to truly live life that I’ve come to understand that I’m the only one who can define what living means to me and then concentrate all of me on living that definition to the best of my ability.
Slowing down tells me to fully enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, of my presence. In this space of time, I am attentive. I am aware. I accept the whole moment with all of me. By slowing down I don’t fill my head with distractions or get too busy to ask myself, am I well? Am I happy? Is my mummy well? Are my siblings doing ok? What is really going on with my neighbour or friend? When I pay full attention, I see that I have a lot to be thankful for and I learn to store all the precious little moments that make up my day in my heart. Slowing down is hard to do especially for me because by nature my mind is hardly quiet or in my surrounding but this is what I must learn to do, this is what we all should learn to do. Time is what we all have, this gift of now, I think it’s what we never need to merely find enough of but rather, the gift we are given to make something of. The second tweet is an example of what the rush against time is really about, we humans are quite competitive, therefore triumphalist by inclination, because we operate in a society where respect for “personal status” is a leading value, but what shall it profit us to have a soakaway full of cash, a desk fully decorated with accolades, but our lives and relationships are empty, our health is failing, the kids grow up and the parents don’t even notice, the marriage is cold and strifeful, the soul is malnourished; and “What will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them?” — Watts
I have to confess that I wrote this article a while ago and held unto it because somehow I didn’t feel like I was qualified to make a case for slowing down since I’m only just scratching the surface of my dreams and I’m nowhere near where I want to be; but in a world of reaching, in a culture of numbers and ladders, when do I breath? How do I grow? How do I find peace? How do I nurture my relationships? How do I contribute beyond myself?
What are your thoughts on our culture of speed?
Image via Kinetic Fix