People who don’t know me well think I’m chill. Easy-going. Relaxed. As people move into my inner circle, that turns on its head. Thoroughbred. I’ve been called that twice in the last year. It sounds like a compliment… but high-strung and hot-blooded isn’t usually.
I think that’s why I’m so drawn to the Slow Movement. Because slowing down requires such a conscious effort. Because even sitting in the dentist’s chair, I have to remind myself to breathe. Because there is such a thing as life that is too fast. Money that is too fast. Food that is too fast. Data consumption that is too fast.
Seattle Weekly music blogger John Roderick nailed it, in his all-killer, no-filler post “Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate Year-End Top 10 Lists.”
“The people making records are still spending months and years on them, while the people buying them are munching through them like corn chips. Slow down.”
Slow down. Savour the experience. Don’t just consume data, digest it. Chew properly. Pay attention to the flavours and textures in your mouth. There is an appropriate velocity for all things.
As David Orr said, (quoted in Woody Tasch’s interesting micro-manifesto, Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money, which inspired a recent feature article I wrote for the Pique:)
“There is an appropriate velocity for water set by geology, soils, vegetation, and ecological relationships in a given landscape. There is an appropriate velocity for money that corresponds to long-term needs of communities rooted in particular places and to the necessity of preserving ecological capital. There is an appropriate velocity for information, set by the assimilative capacity of the mind and by the collective learning rate of communities and entire societies. Having exceeded the speed limits, we are vulnerable to ecological degradation, economic arrangements that are unjust and unsustainable, and, in the face of great and complex problems, to the befuddlement that comes with information overload.”
Adrenaline has an appropriate velocity, too. It is informed by your body’s metabolism, by the quiet time you can schedule to follow the frenzy, by the discipline to walk away from the high, instead of chasing after the next fix, by situations which genuinely demand an urgent physical response. I have been an adrenaline junkie, surging from one superhuman high to the next. But that, too, degrades the physical system, and erodes one’s ability to focus, to be still, to distinguish true emergency from fake urgency, to commune in some strange and mysterious way with that which is divine.
So 2011 comes whipping at us, and I will walk steadily toward it, instead of running.