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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summertime and the Slow Living is Easy...

Well, maybe not that easy. Slow living, ironically, takes some work in this fast-paced, consume-it-in-a- minute culture. To adopt a slow ethic means to use less resources, savoring the ones we need more fully, and embracing the opportunity to do more with less. It's possible to change our orientation, but most of us still spend the vast majority of our day working and living amidst people, institutions, and businesses that aren't conducive to slowing it down.
So how do we find spaces, strategies, and times where we can break away from the all-encompassing need for convenience, efficiency, and speed that shape our days? One great resource is the Slow Living website. Even better, unplug your computer, pull up a lawn chair and do some summer reading on slow living.
Australian authors Wendy Parking and Geoffrey Craig have written a good primer on all things slow, appropriately titled, Slow Living. Parkin and Craig began their investigation with the Slow Food movement, interviewing key members of the organization and familiarizing themselves with all the avenues Slow Food uses to encourage its message globally. Starting with Italy, where the movement originated, the authors give examples of changing our relationships to time, travel, eating, sleeping, working, and general living. What the authors demonstrate powerfully is how slow living must involve a deliberate and ongoing attempt to face the obstacles that are constantly in place to speed us up. Slightly academic in tone, the book is as thorough as one could possibly get. Slowing down to sort out the theorizing, thinking deeply, is worth the effort.
Another great book is Carl Honore's In Praise of Slowness, which also addresses the global slow movement, from slow cities to slow sex. The last chapter deals with the hardest topic of all, raising children in a pressurized society. Honore has gone further in a more recent book, offering strategies for parents to cope with today's expectations. So, pick up one of these great offerings and head out to the beach or your nearest cafe, making sure to acknowledge your waiter before and after you sip your coffee, to savor every minute, and to read slowly.


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