“There is more to life than increasing its speed.” – Gandhi
This sentence speaks volumes and makes a perfect opening to Carl Honoré’s book — In Praise of SLOW: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed.
In the spirit of Ramadan and one’s desire to enjoy every minute of this blessed month, it seems quite intriguing to find a global movement that calls upon people to “slow down” and enjoy their lives.
In a world where people are sold the idea that “faster is better”, the idea of slowing down seems almost impossible. However, this book offers a prescription for escape.
I would like to make a small request at this point. With all the haste and chase, people do not even slow down to read and digest properly. To this end, I would like to challenge you to read this article at a moderate pace and truly derive its full benefit.
Living in the Right Tempo
Now, this book is not a “declaration of war against speed”. No, it is an exploration of how to savor every aspect of life — to live with purpose and balance.
There is a ‘slow’ movement that advocates that “slow often means better — better health, better work, better cuisine, better family life and better business”. It is about seeking the tempo giusto — the right speed. It is about challenging the underlying mentality that sets our daily metronome.
In the book, Honoré details the ill effects of mindless speed on individuals, as well as society, by using his own personal encounters and anecdotes to set an intimate tone. However, he never fails to offer his considerable research and statistics. His investigation reveals how we can live more productive, fulfilling lives by embracing the philosophy of ‘Slow’.
One of the book’s most poignant moments is Honoré’s realization of what had inspired him to write it. He was prepared to buy a set of one-minute bedtime stories “to accelerate the bedtime ritual with his two-year-old son so he could hurry on to the next thing on his agenda”.
“Scrooge with a stopwatch”. This pretty much sums up all our lives at present. We are all about saving every minute or second, packing more into every hour.
One needs to realize, however, that this is not the essence of productivity. We have to plan and choose how we spend our time, so we make time for all things and live with balance.
That said, remember that all efforts must be governed by a high consideration and link to akhirah.
“In Praise of Slow” examines the slow movement around the world, as it gains currency by promoting the pleasures of better health, better working conditions, better cuisine and better family life.
The idea of slow food to slow cities to slow medicine (CAM – Complementary & Alternative Medicine) to slow work (work sharing/flexi time) to super slow exercise (yoga/walking/weights) to leisure (knitting/gardening) and parenting is gaining momentum in the challenge to break the mold, as people take back their lives from the new-age economy, where life is dictated by the clock.
Admittedly, some of the examples cited reek of relentless optimism, like the “thirty-something married couple who work together in a Manhattan marketing firm” and who after a holiday in southern Europe suddenly enjoy a huge improvement in their dining habits, relationship, golf swings and overall health when they return.
However, that perspective — broad social change via the cultivation of individual pleasure — sums up much of the slow philosophy Honoré explores.
One very important fact that is highlighted, which is the connection between speed and the impoverishment of human relationships, is hard to dispute.
With everyone rushing through life, trying to beat the rat race in this besieged age, where is the time to simply shoot the breeze with neighbors and friends?
Abu Hurayra said about the Prophet that: “When he faced someone, he faced him completely. When he turned away, he turned away completely. I have never seen anyone like him and I will never see anyone like them.” [Adab-al-Mufrad]
So the plethora of ways to join the slow movement is not displaced in any way when it holds that by initiating one form of slow, it filters through to the rest of your life and the difference it makes is visibly positive.
Reflection on the Morale
In understanding the main purpose of the slow movement, one comes to know that it is not about becoming luddites or wanting to turn the whole planet into a lazy holiday camp.
On the contrary, the slow movement knows and understands that we still need speed on the odd occasion — it can be fun and drives productivity to some degree.
Still, finding the balance between when to go fast and when to slow down to really live in the moment, is the true essence of the slow movement’s charter. To remain calm and unflustered even when all about is in a state of flurry and haste, yet still speed up….’Slow’ly.
In the end, it is the tortoise, not the hare, that won the race!
Pick up your copy of the book and share your thoughts on the slow movement in the Comments section below.