Slowing Down The Speed of Life and Love

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.)

7 thoughts on “Slowing Down The Speed of Life and Love

  1. Laura

    I know what you mean! I used to live slow too, now I’ve been fucked up for two, soon three years, and the worst thing about it is that I can’t stop it. Not because I don’t know how, but because it’s impossible, as it has been for some time now. Complicated situation… But I am definitely looking forwards to some slowness.

    Good luck finding yours! 🙂

  2. The Emissary of the Twin Arts

    I think I’m on the other end. I live slow, too slow sometimes. No job, no school, no real demands on my time. Every meal I cook is from scratch (something my roomate loves), and while I do own a cell phone, it stays at home plugged into its charger. I live off of savings, and have been able to for a while because my expenses are so few. I just don’t require much to live my life the way I want. If I suddenly gained a six-figure income, my life would not change in any appreciable way.

    But the slow life has its downside too. Most notable of which is the lack of entertainment. And I’m not talking the “oh my god I need to be entertained every second of every day”. I mean more like “I’d like to take a trip south to the Sand Dunes for a day and lie out next to the water.”

    I’m trying to speed up my life just a bit. Get a job, maybe do something with my degree, and balance the scales a bit. If I had my way, I’d build me a shack up in the Rockies and do nothing but write all the novels I have bouncing around in my head. That’s my life’s dream, right there, make my life writing.

    Unfortunately, that’s not where my life is right now, so I’ve got to make the best of it until I can start moving toward that dream. So while I can recommend the slow life, don’t take it too slow or you might find yourself bored out of your mind.

  3. tom joad

    you know I couldn’t help but think of Gethro Tully’s song, “Locomotive Breathe” as I read your rant. “He is running headlong to his death…” goes some of the lyrics.

    I don’t think it is about going slow as much as taking control, ownership, pushing back when you get pushed into this or that. Saying no and sticking to it.

    But then again, your rant is about a concept as old as Man and likely civilization. The dream of time to smell the roses sort of stuff. In this day and age of cube dwellers, online marketing of one’s skill, working for yourself, time, that kind of time, slow time, is almost a myth.

    I am sure folks who suddenly win millions say it is not about the money. It is about the time, finally, they have been awarded. The money lets them just fucking stop where they are and go away if they choose and I would bet many of them do. I would.

    I would be so far back in the woods you would have to pump me daylight. I would just diappear literally forever.


  4. jp

    fuckin brilliant!…
    i remember back when things like pagers, cell phones, and laptops started becoming popular…folks would talk about how great these new technologies would be because they would let them be in touch any time, anywhere…or people would now have more free time because they could take work with them, sneak in an hour or two of work in the evening at home or wherever – hence gaining more free time later…
    altho i’m sure some folks actually take advantage of these little gizmos in such a fashion, the vast majority i see are now tied to these little electronic leashes…at someones, everyones, beck-and-call whenever the cell rings or an email comes in…
    hence, they are more overworked, stressed, fragmented…
    do people need to be in contact sometimes during off hours or work a bit extra from time to time?…sure…that’s life…
    but don’t let all the fancy gadgets, and people thru them, run you’re life…
    take control, simplify, enjoy…

  5. scribe called steff

    Laura — Thanks! I cancelled EVERYTHING today, and have even postponed the possibility of a job interview, which may bite me in the ass… but with the strength of my cover letter and resume, I’m hedging bets it won’t. I’ve gotten the last five jobs I’ve applied to, so I doubt this will hinder me too much. Hope my arrogance isn’t misplaced, but I’ve tried to use my denying them an interview today as an indication of how seriously I take my responsibilities. Ironic, aren’t I? (fingers crossed)

    Emissary — Hmm. I don’t suggest I don’t want to work, I simply refuse to take jobs I’ve no interest in. Unfortunately, I’m too scattered right now. I believe I had the perfect balance for about 10-12 months there, and it’s just a matter of returning to that. I have a little dream of being self-sufficient from my writing within five years, and when I am, I’m moving out of the city, into some nature. Probably BC’s Sunshine Coast. You may find the life boring, but I assure you, my days would be full — photography, cycling, writing, gardening, friends. My love for life would keep me appeased. It’s just a matter of getting there.

    Tom Joad — It’s pretty crazy how many people don’t know how to say no, how obligated they feel to do things for others, be things for others. I watched that unwillingness to take what’s owed to one’s self leave more than a few people I’ve known in tatters. I’m not that person. I remember learning how to walk away from money when I didn’t like a client about eight years ago and fucking LOVING the way it felt to say, “My time is more valuable to me than this shit, even if it leaves me hurting financially.” I felt like a GOD. I still do that today, and literally did it this very day, but often, life just doesn’t give me the opportunity to do so these days. It will.

    And yes, I’d walk. I wouldn’t recede deep into the forest, I mentioned Sunshine Coast above, and that’s just a 40-minute ferry from the Mainland. I could have the city when I need it, and the quiet pace when I don’t.

    When I moved to the Yukon, the pace of life astounded me. At 21, I’d never experienced anything like it. After reading some Robert Service and Jack London, I readied myself to do a load of laundry, and then threw my $60 watch in the wash with it. When the cycle finished, I took the destroyed watch out, and put its gears, face, strap, and other inner-workings up on my wall as if it were a piece of abstract art, and it felt like I’d washed the need for time from my life.

    Now, though, I ironically wear an entirely-metal watch that came with a 15-year warranty, as if I needed to protect my time well into the future. I look forwards to the occasion when I can throw it in the fucking wash, too. 🙂

    JP — Yeah, unfortunately the perception is that time is money. We’ve learned to associate the quantity of time we dedicate to work with the quantity of wealth we have, and while the two might strongly be connected, we forget the value of our time, that our cosmic clock is ticking, and we forget that, at the end of life, no one ever says, “I wish I’d spent more time working.”

    Anyhow, I’ve given myself the day off, have been enjoying a wonderful movie called Nowhere in Africa (my veldtland analogy hit me close to home, heh) and soon, I’m going to go for a long, long walk in the rain with a little music to keep me company. It’s a fine day for photos on the marshlands at the river.

  6. broad abroad

    I truly believe when you mind and soul are struggling, your body will react and feel under the weather. I am glad to hear that you have recovered from your cold and it seems you are heading in a healthy direction in all aspects of your life.
    Powerful stuff Steff –
    though your blog is filled with sexual content, your entries over the past week have revealed an even more personal and emotional side of you. Thank you for sharing your intimate thoughts! I wish you all the time and space you need to explore, discover and re-discover yourself.

  7. scribe called steff

    I can’t help but suspect some people think it’s self-indulgent or… I don’t know what, these “personal” posts. Less thrilling, whatever.

    Honestly, I was never sure where this blog would go — I’m stunned at its popularity. Sometimes I need to be a little more self-indulgent, but I always get this way in the darkest days of the winter. Can’t help it. It’s the Canadian way.

    It’s funny, but when you look at Canadian writing — and this country has more writers per capita than any on the face of the earth — it tends to be either humourous or dark-ish. Margaret Atwood’s a prime example. Often black humour, often poignant observations, but a hell of a lot of depression to go alongside. Our movies/cinema seems to be the same. Just the Canadian way.

    I think I got sick/etc last month and earlier this month because I think I’ve been at a crossroads for about six months now, and I’m on the verge of a new part of my life. I tend to get sick or go through physical struggles at the end of eras, and I know now I’ve been at one.

    This year, all that lies before me… excites me. I’m curiouser and curiouser. Lewis Carroll would be proud. Down the rabbithole I go.

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