Saturday, March 8, 2008

Life in the Slow Lane

"The Cup of Tea" Mary Cassatt

This weekend was devoted to watching 1985 BBC adaptations of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. I was looking forward to period costume design but the tweed and lace were as drab as you would expect for an English village named St. Mary Meade. Boo. The long episodes, slow dialogues, scenes of Jane Marple sipping tea and gazing out her window, however, sparked off a train of thought about the pace of life today...

Have you ever considered that a full life is not one in which
  • you don't have a minute to yourself and when you do, you feel you should be doing something "useful" with it 
  • you are ever more productive and successful in your career but don't actually like what you are doing
  • the number of "friends" in your Facebook account exceeds the speed limit on German highways
  • you attend or even organize regular family get-togethers although they exhaust you
  • you set yourself twenty goals a year and not one of them has to do with fun, pleasure or joy
When I was a teenager, I was afraid that growing up meant giving up precious hours of lolling about on my bed reading, listening to music, writing in my diary or just doing zip. Since then, I made sure no job or relationship ever deprived me of these essential activities. So, today, my calender is not chock-full of meetings, appointments and dinner-dates, nor am I doing any sort of ascending, career-wise or social. And I don't feel I am missing out! I go for aimless ambles through unfamiliar parts of town, not "power walks" checking watch and pulse every few minutes. I love to meet and chat with one friend for half a day instead of getting social "obligations" and possible networking done with by a monthly brunch from 11 to 1.  Am I hopelessly out of touch?  Does not getting ahead mean getting it all wrong? 

Not according to Tom Hodgkinson's wonderfully witty and well-researched  book "How to be Idle", whose purpose "is both to celebrate laziness and to attack the work culture of the western world, which has enslaved, demoralized and depressed so many of us". He reminds us that time is not money. Choosing to work less, leaves us more hours in which to pursue our own projects and passions -  the loss of income being easily compensated for by the extra time!

If you feel you have entered  a shrill state of hyperactivity and productivity that is making you ill, Slow Down Now offers some tips for beginners:
  1. Have a cup of tea, put your feet up and stare out of the window (Warning: don't try this while driving)
  2. Spend some quality time in the bath tub
  3. Write down these words and place them where you can see them, "Multi-tasking is a Moral Weakness"
  4. Try to do only one thing at a time
  5. Do not be pushed into answering a question right away
  6. Yawn often. Medical studies have shown lots of things and possibly that yawning is good for you
  7. Have some more tea. Tea is the drink of the slow
  8. Take a nap and spend at least another hour in bed
Have fun loafing, but beware, it can become addictive!

1 comment:

esperanca said...

I heart No 7 - I adore tea and there's nothing like the perfect cup as you delve into a reverie.