Monday, May 24, 2010

Slow Down!

As a person who multitasks yet constantly feels like I'm being spit off the back of the treadmill of life, I found this article really interesting.  I try to simplify, yet I also find myself doing things that complicate.  Blogging, for example.  Web surfing.  Various garden projects.  Isn't it just easier to buy stuff at the store?  Faster.  Wait - that's the point.  A lot of my projects (which can be overwhelming in their number and scope, especially for my life phase, as I mother little ones) are simplification projects.  Growing food is a slow process, a labor of love, a developing oneness with the food.  And yet it is also watering, weeding, planting, composting -- translation -- time.  It is slow.  Yet it is also a time sink.  One in the same, I suppose.  There is this tension between wanting to get things done so you have time to move on to the things you want to do vs. just slowing everything down and enjoying the process.  Being mindful. 

Where do I waste time?  Web-surfing, email, reading news.  But is it such a waste?

We don't really watch TV, so the time isn't being sunk there. 

This article points to agreement about increased speed of life now.  We get places faster (cars, airplanes) and get information faster (internet, phones), so why aren't we overwhelmed with leisure time?  Doesn't that sound nice?  Being overwhelmed with leisure time.  Yet I don't know anyone who feels that way.  Why not?  Longer hours at work?  Greater expectations for ourselves and our families?  More scheduled activities for kids?  Multi-generational care across suburban (and global) sprawl?

Some of the ways we try to simplify in our home are:
- almost no TV
- minimal cell phone use (so we aren't getting calls everywhere we go)
- growing some of our food
- preserving some of our food (but again, is this just complicating things?  It would be faster to buy a jar of applesauce than make it.  But I guess that's the point - SLOW DOWN!)
- I don't like to run errands all the time, so I postpone trips like going to the grocery store (in the article he discusses the merits of skipping a bookstore trip that he doesn't really have time for anyway).  But this ends up with less frequent trips.  The ones I do make are time-consuming and feel like a marathon!
- intentional reduction in consumption.  Freecycle and Craig's List are not only cheaper, but also greener - by reusing stuff.  They are more of a process - than the quick accomplishment of just buying something new.  So does searching for a pressure canner for a year on Freecycle, Craig's List, garage & estate sales, and thrift shops count as "slowing down"?  Or is it just a complication and I should have just bought a new one and got it over with?

I'm afraid that I'm a long way off from having the answers.  I'm open to suggestions.  How do you simplify your life?