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Rising to the Task of Slowing Down | The Nation

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Katrina vanden Heuvel

Katrina vanden Heuvel

Politics, current affairs and riffs and reflections on the news.

Rising to the Task of Slowing Down

Editor's Note: Each week, we cross-post an excerpt of Katrina vanden Heuvel's column at the WashingtonPost.com.

"The pace of life feels morally dangerous to me." — Richard Ford, novelist

"Slow" is not a quality I'm used to embracing, nor is it often a realistic option. As a person who runs a round-the-clock Web site and a weekly magazine, I race through each day—assigning stories, writing stories, editing stories and then assigning more, writing more, editing more. I rush from editorial meetings to business meetings and back again. And though I sometimes manage to disconnect briefly—to have dinner with my husband or friends—I'm reliably online late at night and early in the morning.

I realize I have good company in living life at this frenetic pace. In fact, this sort of life is increasingly the rule rather than the exception. Economist Juliet Schor notes that the average U.S. worker in 2006 worked nearly a month more than he or she did in 1969. Of course, the distinction between working and not working has diminished, too. We're expected to be on call at all times—and we feel guilty about taking a break from our smart phone-driven, perpetual overtime. Salon's Rebecca Traister puts it well: "Now, it often seems, there is no 'gone for the weekend.' There is certainly no 'gone for the night.' Sometimes there's not even a gone on vacation. . . . I don't think the notion that we have to be constantly plugged in is just in our heads: I think it's also in the heads of our superiors, our colleagues, our future employers and our prospective employees." Forget smelling the proverbial roses, we're so busy sprinting from point A to point B—with our cellphones and Kindles and iPads, e-mailing and texting and Tweeting—we don't even spot the roses in the first place.

This August, I'm trying to do things differently.

Read the rest of Katrina's post at the WashingtonPost.com.

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