I read today about the Slow movement which till now had passed me by. I need to check out on its international spokesperson, one Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. If I buy it, and it passes muster, I will put it on the shelf next to E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful.
Slowing down and downsizing. It’s what we do as we get older. I don’t think I’m 6ft 1in anymore though my passport says I am. And I run more slowly. Probably think more slowly too. (At which point, a pause, as I gather my thoughts). I now live in a flat, and the family home is a memory. My car is smaller. But, my car isn’t slower. No, at the age of 62 I bought a faster car, and speeded up, almost imperceptibly to me but not to that roadside camera that caught me speeding last month.
There are it seems two kinds of slowness, that brought on by age and circumstances, and the slowness that I (or when I’m driving I don’t) choose for myself. The latter I can do at any age. In all the whirl of activity we get up to in our teens and twenties we don’t normally appreciate the virtues of slowing down, but nonetheless it’s an option for everyone.
There’s that old W.H. Davies poem, ‘What is this life so full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’. I thought that might be a nice neat poetic summary of the idea, but it’s not. That’s about stopping and starting, and maybe increasing the amount we stop…
No, this is about slowness, about taking in and enjoying the world as we travel through it, being mindful of it, finding our own pace, not been swept along at someone else’s pace. Curiously, by this definition you can do slowness at speed.
A river runs through my girlfriend’s garden. On a bad day it ran though the house, but that’s another story. It’s faster and muddier after rain, slower and clearer in drier spells. But it’s pace is steady.
Schumacher has a chapter called Buddhist economics. We define ourselves by who we are, not by what we possess.I’d forgotten about Buddhist economics when I called this blog Zen Politics. So there’s a challenge. How can Zen work not just in everyday life, but in political life? And can we talk about it without being incredibly boring? John Humphries should be nice to everyone, David Cameron should be nice to Gordon Brown, we should all be nice to Nick Griffin, and even forgive the guy, we should learn to love the Barclay brothers (pet dislike), owners of the Telegraph.
If I can find anything useful to say on the subject you’ll hear more from me!!