Embracing a slower perspective.
We all have an internal metronome that ticks to a different rhythm. If I had to rate my tempo relative to other members in our household, I would be in the faster end of the scale. It goes without saying that I am intolerant of those who live on the other end of the continuum. For many years, I have paced anxiously, yelled out constant reminders, updated with a minute-by-minute countdown or just seethed with rage as I watched the clock.
A wise and dear friend once told me, not to be hasty in my pursuit to speed the rest of our family up, as they have been strategically placed in my life to recalibrate ones overall pace. Much like a herd of emigrating elephants, we will be forced to slow the speed of the entire herd to ensure everyone moves together. I groaned as she cautioned me.
After several years, working on accepting her sage instruction, I found myself deliberately downshifting – reducing our scheduled activities so we could just spend larger periods of time at home with no planned agenda or allowing larger time intervals between appointments. I began to take a more positive perspective towards down time and behaved in a less adversarial manner towards my slower moving family members. I witnessed that during the days where our busy school-going children had the opportunity to be bored, they pulled out board & card games, lazed around to read books for leisure, reconnected with each other in imaginary role play, doodled or just day dreamed. Similarly as adults on the fast paced treadmill of modern life, we could clock in more sleep, take time to prepare an elaborate meal, catch up on reading or participate with the kids in their games.
I read books such as Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slow and similar literature about the rise of the Slow Movement. I would also ask questions of my more snail-like family members to explain to me how they felt when they were rushed, or to describe their reasons for their pace. When hurrying them along at meal times, I once was told “I like eating slowly.” I realised that more often than not, it was a deliberate decision to take their time, rather than an inability to move quicker or even sprint, as I had previously assumed.
I began taking the time to welcome the alternative perspective. That personal shift in itself made me smile, as the wisdom of this friend’s advice, so many years ago, echoed in my head. The impact of our varied speed inadvertently results in greater connections with and a deeper appreciation of my loved ones. I have reflected in horror that if all of us were as time-anxious as I am, how dysfunctional a family we may have become.
While I still have lapses in enlightened patience and find myself trying to quicken up the pace, I am able to respond more constructively to personal observations of “You know me, I’m just slow” with “ You are not slow, you choose to be less time conscious.”