Monday, October 10, 2011


"Time poverty is now a recognized psychological and social stressor. In a speeded-up, highly complex society, there just isn't enough time for everything: our demanding jobs, our interlocking bureaucratic responsibilities (taxes, insurance, legal issues), our loved ones, kids, our community (including the rest of nature), plus commuting and keeping up with traditional media and endless 24/7 online communications. Constantly rushing to keep up as we inevitably fall further behind, we find ourselves destroying not only our own health, but our habitat, and the habitat of the people, plants and animals with whom we share the planet. ...... many (of us) feel - completely frazzled and out of synch with our deep selves."
"SLOW DOWN: How Our Fast-Paced World is Making Us Sick" : Linda Buzzell. AlterNet. July 2009.

For weeks now I have been involved in a continuing conversation. It's been going on with friends, people I hardly know and last Friday at my back door, it was with a woman who was a total stranger. I know her name is Leah, that she is in her mid thirties and has a nine year old son. It was our blackboard in the hall just before you reach our backdoor, that sparked this particular conversation. Leah began by saying she really liked what was written on the blackboard. We then stood beside her car discussing deep feelings and frustrations of when one person wants to slow down their crazy living pace and take a "stop and blob" holiday, but their partner can't find time for that. For her partner, work was a high priority and time-consumer.
Erin on her blog "Raising Country Kids", wrote a post "Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced Life", and said, "Lately, though, I have begun to wonder if we're falling into the trap of society that requires us to need everything faster, better, and more expensive in order to be satisfied." She went on to describe how different life for her as a child was compared to now - "When we defrosted meat, it wasn't in a microwave, we planned ahead. We didn't reheat leftovers in a minute and 30 seconds, we waited for them to heat up on the stove or in the oven, and in the meantime we sat down, conversed, and relaxed. While the convenience of the microwave saves time, it is another example of our apparent need four instant gratification, and it also creates frenzied mealtimes because we know that we don't have to plan ahead. ....... The unfortunate consequence to this phenomenon is that we are losing connections with each other even as we think we are connected. For example, the people who are on the phone constantly often have bored-looking children trailing after them. There is no interaction with the children, no sharing of an experience together, after all, whoever is on the phone is clearly more important than the child. There is no smile and greeting when you meet someone on the stairs because they are too busy talking on the phone to notice your presence. There is no 'getting away from it all' because we are so intent on taking it all with us all the time.
I'm not sure where the line is between something that is a convenience for us and something that inconveniences us."
It is clear why we feel "completely frazzled and out of synch with our deep selves".
Everyone knows that living constantly under "unnatural time pressures" can easily lead to physical illnesses, social and psychological disorders. 
These days it seems everyone says their lives are too fast/they have the feeling they are living on a rollercoaster/they never have enough time to think - breathe - sit down to relax - floss their teeth - enjoy a coffee or life. But the essence of living hasn't really changed at all.
   ~  there are still 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week
   ~  we still live in families and need to eat drink and sleep to survive each day
   ~  we still like to laugh, cry and get excited regularly
   ~  we still hope to improve certain things about ourselves and improve our living situation 
       before we die
   ~  we still have a curiosity about this world and would like to know and experience more of it
Nothing is new, life has always been full-on and pressured. It was this way for the slaves who built the pyramids in ancient Egypt, the peasant surf farmers of the medieval times, the barbarian invaders who entered Europe, people living at the time of the Industrial Revolution in London, and still today.
Today there are various expressions of frenetic lifestyles. Some are merely due to the choices people make and hence a choice to change, could be made.
But if you choose to continue living in your frenzy, here's some helpful ideas you would do well to incorporate into your lifestyle. They are simple ideas which the people of the past probably practiced and so 'survived' their seriously stretching lives.
I think four of Linda Buzzell's suggestions in her article are sensible and able to be applied to most people's lives.
1.  Reconnect with place - settle in a place you find comfortable. Spend regular time there, exploring it, being in it and continuing to get-to-know the details of that place. We are privileged to be able to regularly go out to our family bach or holiday house, which is in a picturesque valley on the water. It is simple, has no telephone  or internet connection and very poor mobile coverage, but is warmly welcoming, rich in family memories and offers generous experiences in 'living' when we stay.
2. Reconnect with animals - caring for animals or pets involves touching them, holding them which gives pleasure and joy to the carer. Even watching the flight of birds through the sky or moving from tree to tree, gives a person time to slow down, be still and quieten down. My husband loves to be with our cows. My son loves caring for his chickens
3. Reconnect with plants - enjoying nature is easy - a small plant growing on the windowsill or a tree you pass by,  if closely observed can give your imagination a lot to think about. Pick up a leaf from the ground and hold it, look carefully at it because it is a unique speciman. Smell the fragrance of a flower, that too is a unique perfume. As they say, " take time to smell the roses".
4. Spend time in wild nature - this needs a length of time rather than a moment. A long slow walk along a beach or through a forest, sitting at the beach watching waves crash on the rocks, walking in a storm of heavy rain and wind. Experiences where there's no space to chat on a phone because you are absorbed in silence, fully focused on feeling, listening and seeing. Our annual holiday camping simple style is full of such occasions, cyclones and all, giving great opportunities to be slowed down and refreshed before returning to normal busyness.
The photo above of our blackboard, is a great quote by Ann Voskamp "The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction."
Here's another from her, "Rest time is not lost time; rest time is what gives meaning to the rest of time." In this quote she states a misunderstanding that some people, like Leah's partner, have with 'rest'. For some it is thought that rest is a waste of time, unnecessary and even irresponsible. Movies have picked up on this theme with it often resulting in parents choosing to have no time for their children ~ Audrey Hepburn's "Roman Holiday", James Dean's "Rebel Without a Cause", "Stick It", "Cheaper By the Dozen", "She's the Man".
But rest IS significant as my musical sister reminded me. In music a rest is not nothing! It has purposely been put in its place by the composer. It gives meaning to the musical section preceding it as well as what follows it. For the composer it breaks from what's been, so they can move into a development or head into a new theme. For the instrumentalist it gives them a chance to breathe - take in air. For the listener it gives time to clear one's head, then to hear the next section. It contributes to the whole musical work. Without it there would just be a continual never-ending note after note with no opportunity to think, reflect or consider what is being heard.
Rest gives space to reflect and regroup before heading on. Isn't THAT what WE need?
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ You may need to actually log down how much time this week you spend slowing down - that is away from the screen, the phone and connected to nature.... Could you as a parent choose to place some rests in your fast-paced life this week as an experiment?

1 comment:

  1. What a great post. One of the best tips I've read about resting is to pick a beautiful spot to stop on your way home from work and take a few minutes, rather than pull into the drive still wrapped in work stuff