I often think of Jack Johnson's lyrics when life feels like it's getting away from me..."Slow down everyone you're moving too fast. Frames can't catch you when you're moving like that." How true is it that often our lives are beyond manic. And I firmly believe that we can't enjoy the "frames" or the moments if we continue to move at a ridiculous pace.
Even the way we travel is often impacted by an innate desire not to miss out! FOMO (fear of missing out) can impacts our travel plans when we start with the best intentions of planning a slow journey - one that allows for plans to change and makes space for long lunches, siestas and hours to while away at beaches or lazing in parks; one that gives you room to fall in love with a destination and a people so you can spend a long time in one place that really makes an imprint. Instead we often get overwhelmed by this crazy desire to see and do it all and end up back home after a whirlwind trip feeling exhausted and like we've really just been a tourist rather than an authentic traveller.
I've certainly fallen victim to the latter approach but I firmly believe that I want my travel philosophy and my life philosophy to have a slower approach. Some good friends recently launched a beautiful magazine project called Frontier Journal and I contributed a story on the slow movement.
So as the year come to a close I hope it inspires and challenges you to slow down.
WE LIVE IN A FAST-PACED WORLD. There is no doubt that we move quickly – our online calendars are jam packed with appointments and reminders, we cram our days with meetings, deadlines, social engagements and extra-curricular activities. We squeeze in a speedy 30-minute work-out so we feel like we have “balance”. We have more friends on social media networks than in real life because it helps us feel connected without having to invest too much time. We read the news headlines on Twitter – getting the short, sharp gist of things but rarely bothering to delve deeper. We consume our meals at our desks over paperwork and laptops, or in front of the television in the evenings. We speed date, speed renovate and speed update. We aim to get rich quick, lose weight now and fast track our careers. And then we collapse into bed in the evenings wondering why we are so exhausted and counting down the days until our one holiday for the year (which incidentally is over six months away).
It’s clear that this fast-paced way of life has its downfalls. According to Beyond Blue over three million Australians are living with anxiety and depression. One in six young Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety disorder and a quarter of young Australians say they are unhappy with their lives. If this fast-paced life is all about the pursuit of happiness, we are hardly succeeding.
But there is a growing movement of people shirking the status quo. They are choosing to live extraordinary lives while refusing to even attempt to “keep up with the Joneses”. While the rest of the world lives in the fast lane, these movers and shakers are embracing what it means to slow down. Literally.
The slow movement began in 1986 with Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a fast food restaurant in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna. The Slow Food Organisation was born and from there the subculture has spread to slow cities, slow design, slow travel, slow living, slow fashion and even slow church. And at the heart of it all – the pursuit of a cultural shift to slowing down the pace of life.
As a society, we can learn a lot from the slow movement. In fact when you examine the philosophy of what it means to slow down, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint any negatives. Slow food opposes fast food and encourages regional produce and traditional, seasonal foods. Slow fashion steers away from seasonal trends and mass-production, instead favouring artisan-produced products, vintage and second-hand, sustainable and ethical practices and DIY while opting for quality over quantity. Slow church has been described as a “conversation” rather than a movement and focuses on alternative, non-traditional ways of operation rather than dogma and hierarchy. Slow travel focuses on engagement with communities rather than racing through all the must-see sights at new locations and consuming culture without engaging.
There’s an underlying attitude that if you can’t keep up the pace of our widely accepted, broadly marketed, hectic lifestyles then it must be due to laziness or lack of drive and motivation. You can’t just while away your life lounging in a hammock under a coconut tree right? But advocates of these “alternative” lifestyles could hardly be described as indolent. In fact, they are often highly driven and hugely successful – they just refuse to live their lives on anyone else’s terms.
They are the entrepreneurs – but instead of just opening a restaurant, they are more likely to create a community connecting people with the process of food rather than the act of consumption. They are the explorers – but instead of simply notching up stamps in their passports they are more likely to be found volunteering in a community they have fallen in love with. Perhaps they are the parents. And instead of cramming their children’s lives with schedules and events, they are more likely to be found lost in pointless conversation or play – literally taking time to smell the roses.
It’s hard to justify our need for speed when the idea of slowing down sounds so appealing.
For more information on where you can get a copy of the Frontier Journal head to their website: http://www.frontierjournal.co