“Slow” is a movement that got its growth in Italy, after the first McDonald’s landed there in 1986. It grew from people tired of the chaos of modern life, yearning for a return to simplicity and focus.
I think there’s a misinterpretation that the “Slow Lifestyle” means being boring.
That’s not the case at all.
Living Slow means stripping away anything unnecessary in your life in order to focus on the moment, to live presently.
It means having a relaxing Sunday. Turning your ringer off on your cellphone so you don’t get distracted from just being chill. It’s about cooking real food and sitting around and enjoying it, not shovelling it in after microwave-nuking something packaged.
It’s about accepting plans because it’s a thing you actually WANT to do, not some perceived obligation. Slow is the choice of enjoying everything you do because it’s not an obligation. It’s a conscious choice.
It’s about living with less distraction and liking it more, simply because you’re taking the time to sit on the front stoop and watch the end of daylight disappear, with a cool beverage and a friend or a cat or maybe even alone. It’s about seeing a starry sky and realizing you have five minutes to stand there agape and take it in, because no one owns your time.
Slow is also about living within your means, appreciating what you have, and knowing it doesn’t take a lot to get by when you simplify your expectations. Slow is the solution to stress, to money problems, and more.
Living slow is all about realizing that this minute we’re in is a choice, most of the time. Outside of work, anyhow.
But I moved to Victoria and did the best thing a person can possibly do if they’re looking to adopt the “Slow” lifestyle, with a desire to live in the moment all the time. I moved to a walkable neighbourhood smack-dab between world-class beaches and downtown. I arranged to work from home for a company that has assigned work daily, so quotas are met, but the hours I work are up to me.
Now I can capitalise when the skies part and sun happens, and bust out my lunch and go for a bike ride to enjoy lunch by the ocean, like I did yesterday, opting to work until 7:30 and warm up leftover spaghetti with a glass of wine to enjoy with Downton Abbey, because my “work day” already included 90 minutes sitting on the ocean and 30 minutes cycling.
It’s not boring. It’s being conscious. It’s prioritizing. It’s understanding that feeding your soul isn’t optional in life.
A lot of folks don’t have the ability to be like me, to pick up and move to someplace for a more suitable Slow lifestyle while working from home.
But they can say “no” to more invitations. They can choose to check work email only AT work, and email at home only once or twice a day. They can turn off their cellphone ringers when they’re doing anything purposefully at all, or especially when they’re doing nothing. They can turn off social media and other app “push notifications”. They can cycle to work and get out of traffic and off of the buses. They can walk to the store. They can listen to music or enjoy the silence. They can turn off gaming, watch less TV.
They can set boundaries. Most choose not to set them, or play victim. “Oh, no, I have to check my email.” What, the world’s gonna end if they delay something until the morning? Do they not realize how insignificant each of us is to the big picture? Work in the morning. Live tonight — whether it’s pantsless watching an old movie or you’re hanging with friends for a couple drinks. If you do it, do it.
Often the nothingness of relaxing is everything we need.
I know so many people who constantly complain about being endlessly busy, but the reality is, everything we do is a choice. The boundaries set by many are easily put in place by the majority. You just make a choice to do that.
I don’t have it all figured out, yet. I’ve come a long way. I’m so much less angry than I was a year ago. I’m less frustrated, more hopeful, and I sleep better. My money problems are easing. My health is improving. I chalk it all up to more time spent on the ocean, more time spent buying better quality ingredients to cook with, never having to waste my time waiting for buses because I can walk or cycle everywhere. Less noise around me.
I chalk it up to a lot of things.
Mostly, I chalk it up to choosing a different path than the one I’d found myself on that left me so unhappy for so long.
I hear from a lot of people that they can’t do their job at home (but that their boss often lets them work from home). The truth is, a lot of studies suggest more and more employers are switching to allowing workers to telecommute. Maybe anyone working in an office needs to be more persuasive.
In the last 5 years, my company caught that boat and sailed with it. Here I am, working from home, happier, taking fewer sick days, turning in better quality work, and more able to contribute when overtime is needed.
Once that freedom of “work where you like” comes in, things can change. If a choice is made to do so.
Another thing is, we’re all programmed to think inside the box. What if you didn’t do what you do, you changed the game completely, and because you moved to some rural place, you could take a reduction in pay to do so? And that reduction in pay meant you could work on a farm, work for an artisan of some kind, or do some other ain’t-great-for-the-wallet-but-the-soul-sure-digs-it kinda job? What if you could leave work at work every time you clocked out for the night?
Choosing a Slow lifestyle comes in many forms. The best reward for living that way, though, is you realise just how little you can get by on when you really know what the value in life is. Once you decide life ain’t all about money, it’s pretty freeing.
For me, it’s taken nearly a year to get the rat race out of my system. Only now am I beginning to catch my breath. A woman told me when I first moved here that it took her 2 years to “get” the Victoria lifestyle and pace after living in the big city so many years. I chuckled and said, “Oh, I’m a quick learner. I already feel more relaxed.”
“You’ll see,” she said.
After a year, I get it now. I don’t have the casual, unaffected walk the truly blissed-out Victorians have. I’m not Slow enough.
But it ain’t a race, and I’m getting there. I’ll get there.