Sunday, January 3, 2010

Musing about the Slow Movement

central time
fast time
slow time
no time
big time
hard time
my time
your time
some time
long time
short time
real time
show time
hard time
time clock
time out

It is here and it is gone. It is so basic and still so complicated. I was intrigued listening to NPR's To the Best of My Knowledge as they discussed the concept of time. Americans do keep moving and try to defy time thinking there is never enough time to do what we want to do.
Time is a such an abstract concept. Yesterday is gone, totally gone and tomorrow is not yet here.

Time plays with our way of thinking. Are you on time? Are you power playing by arriving late? Are you on Mexican or Indian time and expected to be late? Do you set your clock 3 minutes faster so you can play mind games with your watch and not be late?

I remember reading in UTNE magazine how the alarm clock changed our concept of time pushing us to conform and get to work on time. How many times have we pushed snooze and tried to defy time? I remember growing up in Indiana and hearing the whistle blow from the Seagram's factory signaling my Dad to go to get to work or have lunch or quit for the day. I remember being fascinated with the first public clock in small town Indiana as it showed us a digital clock the first time and the temperature as well. And now, I hear still hear a noon whistle in Tulsa on Fridays and the Church Bells from Southminster Church on the hour and half hour as well. We live in such a time conscious society. I have found I normally run about 7 minutes behind the rest of the universe. I don't like to hurry.

We can slow down time if we really make a conscious effort. The way this best worked for me was when my husband and I walked across Tennessee some 587 miles in 62 days. We did not race across the state. We walked in the cool of the morning and in the evening. Some days we walked about 12 miles and some days a few more. We were very aware of our environment. I took photos and my husband wrote about our adventure and we sent articles back to a small town paper in Tennessee. Several years later I biked across Oklahoma. I remember hearing the young men who want to be there first rattling their tents, bikes and leaving camp first. Their day's ride was over by early morning. I finished toward the end of the day. That slowed time down a bit but not like walking. You are where you are when you are walking but you still see a lot from a good bike ride.

The pottery process if most rewarding when it is done slowly as well. It is no fun to be thinking about the next project while working on another.

Those early morning hours are fun when you feel relaxed and slowly wake up slowly making plans for the art or life projects of the day.

I get upset when I see adults trying to hurry children through a day. Learn fast, faster than anyone in you class. Hurry! Grow up. Act like an adult. Dress like an adult. Be an adult. The computers and video games seem to encourage fast behaviour as well. I remember my son saying once as I literally pulled on his arm rushing to catch the school bus when he was 5, "Hey Mom, Did you see the birds on the line?" No, I didn't. I was in a big hurry.
We should not rush our children to learn to quickly. They need to be able to fully grasp a concept be it math or creative thinking before hurrying them on to the next idea. For example, the ancient Haiku, Old Pond,Frog jump in. Water Sound. Yes you can "get it" quickly but how much to you really understand or contemplate if you move right along?

I met a dance teacher at the private Jewish summer camp where I was teaching this summer. My slower than New Jersey speech pattern drove her crazy and she let me know it. She could not sit still and spoke rapidly. After a bit of getting used to each other and discussing our differences we got along just fine. So often people in the north consider us "slow" if we don't respond as quickly. We grew to appreciate each others habits.

Walking through Whole Foods market today, around noon on Sunday, I noticed several ambitious shoppers, mostly well dressed short haired young men, flying up and down the isles with their shopping carts. In my slow mood, I found them very irritating. They nearly ran me down several times as I jumped out of their way. And, I am not sure they got much more accomplished that I did in a few minutes less.

I love the question, "What do you have when fast food is not fast?" When you wait a long time for fast food there is just nothing there. Just like food, a good glaze recipe is likely to have many ingredients in it to make it better. Foods with lots of layers of taste can sometimes be better as well. Or, maybe just slowly eating an apple can give you a chance to savor it more. Some people eat so fast they hardly salivate. Eating in the car while on the way to an appointment is just a little too ordinary in this country. And of course we all know if we eat more slowly we supposedly eat less leading to better health.

There are so many layers to thinking about time. When I think about time and age it feels so bizarre. My earliest memories were my Mother reading to me from a library book about squirrels in my bedroom as a small child. I also remember running around in a cemetery with other kids and crawling on my knees in concrete drain pipes under the road scraping my knees. It is so unusual to think that person is still me. That was about 54 years ago. And it is strange to realize we are as old as we have ever been and as young as we will ever be. And of course, that some day our time ends, totally ends.

I feel better when I do things more slowly. And if you move too fast sometimes it catches up with you. During the Christmas rush,on the day of my open house, I was moving fast, too fast. I was moving so fast I tripped and fell in my office at my studio. I laid there for a minute, wondering if I had broken my wrist or knee and thought about the consequences. I had nearly tripped twice before a few minutes earlier. Still, I did not listen. I got up slowly and thank goodness, nothing was broken even though I tripped onto a concrete floor. I was rattled but not injured. Then, I listened after the "what ifs" got a hold of my brain.

As a society, I am afraid we are not listening. We get in the hurry up habit and it is hard to break. We would not want to appear lazy or slow. Well, now we are beginning to reevaluate this fast pace. We? I think we. Same song, slow down we move too fast.

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