I recently read a lovely little book entitled "In Praise of Slowness" and learned that there is a whole underground movement toward slowing down -- food, work, life in general. This, coupled with the conversation I heard on Homeword this week about why we are so stressed as a nation, seems to suggest that we are standing at a crossroads. Do we hurry through that crossroads or do we slow down, look both ways, and then decide which way to go?
Dr. Paul Borthwick postulates that we are stressed because we have so many choices. He gives the example that in 1974 we had only two kinds of Lays Potato Chips -- plain and BBQ. Now, however, we have more than 60! Yeppers, 60! The theme of his book Simplify is that we need to reduce our choices and make the conscious decision to use and want less. This, he states, will lead to our having less stress and, thus, being more content.
It seems a predominate theme these days -- simplify life -- slow down -- enjoy more. But, I have to ponder, what are we doing that undermines this? For me it is taking on more than I 1) want to; 2) need to; and 3) have time to do. I have come to realize that this is selfish, to a degree, to think I have to be involved in everything going on around me at work, home, friends, or whatever. Actually, as I am learning, it is okay to say "no" and to let some things pass. It gives others a chance to step up and be successful. In short, life is not all about me.
One of the things we are learning in the Financial Peace University program is how all our choices have consequences. These can be financial, of course, but they are also emotional and psychological as well. Slowing down and considering how we are spending our money will help us acheive those short and long-term goals. We are taking the time to pack lunch every day, to eat at home every night, and to spend a little more time to find things we may have here that we need for a project rather than rushing out and buying duplicates. And, we are using up things we have intentionally or accidentally stockpiled.
Our grandparents knew the value of taking time, slowing down, and enjoying. Look at the photos of them. See the food on the table? The fishing poles? The picnic baskets? The handmade quilts? The group enjoying sweet ice tea as they sit under a tree visiting? The prodigious garden? They valued the process as much as the product. In short, they slowed down and took the time to do things step-by-step rather than wanting instant gratification.
My challenge this coming year is to selectively live my life so that I can become more in the moment, in short, slowing down. One of my most favorite poems is Tennyson's "Ulysses." He wrote: "I cannot rest from travel: I will drink / Life to the lees" (6-7). For me, this means to find joy in every day; to enjoy the process as well as the product; to treasure the moments as well as the hours. In short, slow down.