This is more of a fantasy than anything I’ve written in awhile – slowness, that’s all I want right now. I’m about to stop reading everything, and I’m on the verge of radically trying to change the life I’m living. I’m stick of the manic pace, I’m sick of the demands on my time, and I’m sick of feeling like I’m stretched in a million directions, just like my pal Gumby. I’m about to re-read Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow (or In Praise of Slowness for you Yankees). I read it before, and it helped me make choices that got my life into a place I loved, but that was a while ago, and my world’s been turned upside down for awhile now.
There’s a movement out there in the world that has no flash, no PR, no glory, and it’s called Slow. The movement embraces everything from real cooking with real ingredients and long, relaxing meals with real conversation, right through to Tantric Sex. It’s about finally deciding this world around us just doesn’t make any sense anymore, and taking back control over your life.
We’ve drunk the Kool-aid, man. For the last 100 years, we’ve been told that every new piece of technology would help us better our lives. Cars would get us there faster, cellphones will mean you can get your work done on your time, your portable laptop computer will mean you can work anywhere you want.
It’s bullshit, of course. All it’s done is made it possible to get ahold of us anywhere, anytime.
I have this nightmare, you see. I dream of one day doing a trek through the wilds of Africa, and there on the Savannah floor, the tall grasses of the veldtland blowing in the plains’ winds, the distant sounds of elephants trumpeting their majesty, lionesses roaring with pride over their conquests, and some fucker’s polyphonic GPS-ready cellphone starts to ring to the tone of Softcell’s “Tainted Love.”
I’m sick of this. I’m sick of being a yuppie in the middle of all this crap. But I left the commune a while ago, honestly. But they pulled me back in, just like the fuckin’ mob. Now, I work almost daily, my cellphone’s always charged, I do everything I can to fit as much into my week as I can, and I can tell you this much: The only thing I really know is that I’m beginning to feel soulless.
A year ago, I was living the Slow life. I’d opted to work three hours less per week, and as a result, wound up with three-day weekends weekly. I worked on my terms, my way. I had a little less money, but I couldn’t have cared less. I looked at my friends with their new houses, new cars, and the bags under their eyes and the need to do overtime, and I laughed, sat on beach, read a book, and couldn’t have cared less.
I took the time to cook from scratch, which really doesn’t take much longer, or much more effort, than a lot of the packaged shit in the world. I turned my cellphone on deliberately, not automatically, not 24/7. I let my answering machine get my calls if the phone rang during a meal. I’d take the slow, long, scenic way home. I’d do whatever it took to enjoy the moment I had. My home and my self, both were oases away from the world.
And now? I feel like I’ve been bought and sold by The Man. I got to the beach on Saturday, and did some photography, which I absolutely love to do, and it was the first time since the early fall I’d done so. There was a time when nary a week would pass without the taste of salt air coating my throat.
Slow means doing everything you can to enjoy the moment. It means not rushing to the orgasm. It means exploring Tantric Love. It means rolling over in the morning and actually deciding what you want to do, instead of feeling like the world’s got demands on your time. It’s about knowing that sometimes, a quickie’s exactly what the moment calls for – whether it’s sex or some McDonald’s fries – but that it’s a choice, not a necessity.
It’s about turning off your daytimer, your cellphone, and realizing that you have control over your world, and that you can say “no” to others.
I’m looking for work now, sick of this hodge-podge of jobs I’ve been doing, the complications needed to keep all the shit straight in my head. I’m tired of feeling like I need to apologize for not having any time, when the fact is, the world’s made me this way… but only because I let it.
I had actually gotten an email yesterday that asked me, “Why are you working so much, do you like it?” No, fuck no. An ideal life for me is books, a beachside home, and the ability to travel and live on my terms. I’ve hit a cosmic hiccup that has left me maxed out for six months now, and the time is here to put a stop to it.
Fact is, modern life is bullshit. There are aspects I love, (iPOD!) but our lack of time, lack of independence, lack of control… it’s really tearing us apart. I remember a guy on a ferry saying to me once, “Cities are built for distraction… to distract you from where you’re not, and who you’re not.” And it’s true. I get comments sometimes about my “insight” or whatever it is people like in my writing, and I have to tell you, you too can be your own little guru, but only if you come over to the Slow side. My writing, I guarantee you, will improve if I stop all this shit that’s pulling me apart. My Slow time spent living in the Yukon, and my travels, and my lifestyle I had a year ago, these are the things that plug me into my cosmos. It keeps me happy, makes me in tune not only with the world around me, but with myself.
Being sucked into this vacuous existence of stop-and-go-and-go-and-go has left me feeling like my soul’s long gone. I know it’s not, it’s just on pause, but I remember the feeling I had last year. I was single, my life was entirely on my terms, my schedule, and nobody but nobody could take it away from me. Until they did, and now, here I am.
I’m not worried about it, though. Now I know the problem, I also know the solution, and I know I’ve been able to make those life changes before, and I will again soon. And then, then it will be summer, and life will again be all blessed out.
Every now and then, a person needs this anger and frustration, because it reminds us what we want, and urges us to aggressively seek it.
I gotta get Slow. Fast. And you do, too.
(Photo’s by a dude called Mike Verna. It’s exactly what I wish to be doing today. I’ve cancelled all my work today, just have one appointment, and I’m finding my way to the water today. Rain’s back. Oh well. I’ll be writing about sex soon, I promise. I just need to deal with some things on my plate, first. Thanks for staying tuned.)