Saturday, January 22, 2011

Slow Life

Aside from my internet connection, I can't think of anything that has increased my satisfaction by speeding up. In most of life's broad categories, I find that slower is better.

Perhaps the best known of the slow movements is Slow Food, an international organization founded in 1989 in the wake of the opening of a McDonald's in the heart of Rome. Among its many endeavors, Slow Food strives to support the survival of artisan and small-scale producers of extraordinary edibles, who are often struggling in a global marketplace that prefers homogeneity. In the U.S., author and food biodiversity researcher Gary Paul Nabhan has championed the RAFT project through Slow Food USA. I highly recommend his books, particularly Renewing America's Food Traditions and  Where Our Food Comes From.

A spinoff of Slow Food is Slow Money, but I will write more about economics in a future post.

I also like slow transportation. My favorite mode is walking because it provides the most intimate interaction with my community of neighbors, both human and non-human. Since I will undoubtedly lecture about transportation choices ad nauseum in future blog posts, I'll move on now.

Being an unemployed homeschooling mom, most of my days are slow. But in the winter, some glorious days are slower than others; these I dub "pajama days". When I have nowhere to go and the weather outside is frightful, I plop myself in this spot with the TV remote (I adore Netflix) and my laptop (usually World of Warcraft in one window and the New York Times in another). If I tire of the electronic media, I have plenty of books available.

Today is a Pajama Day.

For the past decade or so, I have arduously resisted the pull of modern culture to a frenetic busyness that leaves most people complaining that they "don't have time" to do the things they want to or know they should.The key, for me, has been to try my best to follow Wendell Berry's advice to "want less". Our car is an example of this. The three licensed drivers in my house share a 1998 Ford Escort wagon. The 17-year-old driver has mentioned that this is an embarrassing car for him and it would be much better for his cool image if he were to drive a "Call of Duty" edition Jeep. But to his credit, he rarely complains. I think he understands the trade-offs our family would need to make to acquire those types of material goodies.

We are a slow family of introverts. Despite one member having a demanding job and another having several extra-curricular activities, most evenings and weekends still find us home together. Yet this morning I'm keenly aware that this blissful situation won't last and I'm wishing I could slow time. The kids are both out taking the SAT. The oldest will be graduating high school in less than 18 months and will likely be going to college far from home.

Actually, I don't want to slow time; I want to freeze it.

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