I just finished reading a wonderful book. So wonderful, in fact, that I decided to blog about it. I’ve already loaned out my copy to a friend, and have several more friends and classmates waiting to read it when it gets returned to the Minify lending library. It’s Carl Honore’s In Praise of Slowness, and it’s one of those books I find myself thinking about long after I turn the last page.
Honore describes several movements I’m well aware of, or even a part of – slow food, for example, which is the inspiration behind our household’s efforts to eat local, fresh, and in season. Slow cities, which Honore also describes, are similar to an idea my husband the soon-to-be-urban-planner has been excited about for a long time, now – making cities more suited to people and authentic community, rather than cars. That’s been a frequent dinner table discussion at my house. There are also movements I hadn’t even considered, such as slow parenting, a cry against overscheduling our children, slow exercise, and even slow sex. Across all the areas and activities of life, there are groups and individuals advocating that we slow down. It’s not a false nostalgia for a bygone era, but a reflection on how we might improve our quality of life by reconsidering the pace at which we rush through it.
What Honore is advocating is not all slowness, all the time, but a thoughtful reconsideration of the pace at which we eat, work and live. It made me think of The Story of Stuff and the idea of the work-spend treadmill: we work longer hours to buy more stuff, and in the end we wind up with lower quality of life and a faster consumption of finite resources than the earth can sustain. Honore’s book raised several questions for me:
What parts of my life feel too fast, too rushed, or too harried? (errands, chores, graduate school…)
How can I change the pace of my life to feel happier and healthier?
I’m already taking several steps in the right direction. The Handmade Christmas Initiative has taken shopping out of the holidays, replaced with time to craft, in solitude or with friends. Instead of spending December traveling all over, I planned only a couple of trips to see family, so that we can have more time together. And I’ve cut back on spending on non-essentials, so that I don’t get stuck in debt on the work-spend treadmill for the rest of my life. Less time shopping and working means more time to cook real meals with my husband. No TV means more time to make Christmas presents, and read books. Paring down and slowing down aren’t about aesceticism or deprivation. They’re about improving quality of life by focusing on the things that really matter, and cutting out the things that get in the way.
Read Honore’s book? Let me know what you think!