The Art of Slowing Down

“Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.”
~ John Lennon

It seems to me that our modern culture values quantity over quality. We are over-concerned with how much we can get done or obtain in the shortest space of time; there is a latent joy in slowing down, being present and appreciating each passing moment.

In contemporary society, it is all about a race to the finish line. We praise those who are able to achieve great things so early: the musical prodigy, the promising academic, the athletic wonderkid. There is merit to such praise; who would not want to be in Time’s 30 under 30 list? Great minds and rare talents often have some form of innate talent which, when nurtured and developed optimally and from an early age, result in amazing accomplishments early in life. However there is something to be said for taking the less traveled path, one which relishes every second of the human experience, and one which does not necessarily concern itself with convention or praise. The gap year in between major periods of formal schooling is not only a necessary choice for some, but may perhaps even allow one to bring the best version of themselves to the table, using such a time to develop other areas of their being and re-align one’s interests and passions with one’s chosen direction in life.

A similar phenomena is seen in literary circles. I see so many videos and articles about reading efficiency, as if the number of books you read is more important the lessons you learn from them and the integration of said lessons into one’s being. ‘I Read 40 Books in a Month’ or ‘I Read 1 Book a Week for 4 Years’ are common titles I see, that in a way disparage the utility of slowing down when reading and taking the time to properly digest the message. Surely, different types of books must be read differently: fictional story books, often meant to be ‘page-turners’ and fluently read, can be read (generally) at a faster pace than, for example, a philosophical treatise. Yet too many people rob themselves of the value of a certain book, the joy of a particular moment or period in life, by focusing too much on quantity maximization or the future and less so on thorough, quality reading and savouring the present.

“Don’t be afraid of taking the slow lane in life. It brings more happiness.”
~ Jennifer West


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