A century ago the Futurist movement glorified speed and the triumph of technology over nature. Since then, Futurism has become the one thing it despised most: an artifact from the past. Probably the best way to celebrate its centennial is to ride the pendulum in the opposite direction and go slow. Dian Duchin Reed is a writer and poet who loves to garden and always takes time to smell the roses, lilacs and jasmine. Although the holiday season is fast approaching, here are ten things she suggests you do to slow down in the present so you can enjoy it and savor future memories. Go to slowmovement.com and check this out.
1 Say no to fast food and join the Slow Food movement instead. Fast food cares nothing for the health of your body or the environment, and the taste doesn’t begin to compare to home-cooked and comfort food. Try new cookbooks. For a good list see 101cookbooks.com. Go to slowfood.com and join the movement.
2 Slow down to the speed limit when driving (see drive55.org). Driving at the speed limit saves gas, increases safety and can reduce adrenaline-fueled road rage. Everyone’s cursed the driver who weaves through traffic at high speeds for the sake of arriving at a destination a few minutes sooner. Is a gain measured in minutes really worth the risk of a serious accident?
3 Slow down your conversation. Don’t cut people off in your haste to get your two cents in. Listen—really listen—to what others are saying, instead of using the time to compose your rebuttal. Stop to think before saying (or posting or texting) something you may regret later.
4 Be slow to judge. There’s no good reason others should think, act or dress just like you. Honor diversity. Read The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies by Scott Page.
5 Tune in, not out. On the outside, it appears that the world holds 7 billion people of different beliefs, skin colors, religions and levels of education. Look inside, and discover that we’re all the same species, all of us related, all of us in the same boat. Why persist in rocking it so vigorously? Reduce time spent on social networking sites and take more time tuning in to the real world around you. Go to wikihow.com/Quit-Facebook and check out Confessions of a Facebook Addict.
6 Not so fast—do you really need a new [fill in the blank]? There will always be something that’s bigger, better or more fashionable than what you’ve got, but down that road lies the biggest garbage dump you can imagine. It’s called the earth. Check out verdant.et and the Rev. Billy’s Church of Life After Shopping.
7 According to the American Heart Association, one out of every three adult Americans has high blood pressure. Research indicates that time spent relaxing or meditating can reduce blood pressure. Wouldn’t you rather meditate than medicate? As François de La Rochefoucauld said, “When we are unable to find tranquility within ourselves, it is useless to seek it elsewhere.” Go here for relaxation techniques. Go to the Health and Wellness channel on Hulu for free yoga, meditation and workout videos.
8 One of the most delightful (and insightful) ways to slow down is to take the time to read poetry daily. “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,” wrote William Butler Yeats in “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” Savor poems of all eras, categories and styles at poets.org and poetryfoundation.org.
9 Take time to consider the children. How does your next action affect the world they’ll inherit? (Visit sevengenerationsahead.org.) It’s easy to act out of habit or because everyone else is doing it. By taking the time to notice what you’re actually doing, you’ll be able to decide if you really want to be doing it at all. Join the slow parenting movement, and read Carl Honoré’s book Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting.
10 Don’t rush through life. Be aware of moments you can picture yourself later reminiscing about fondly, and then realize that you’re actually living them right now. What’s the future got that the present doesn’t, except more wrinkles and gray hair? Read Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. Watch his video.
Conceived by Walter Mosley, with research by Rae Gomes
“Ten Things” is a monthly feature. Readers who wish to propose ideas for it should e-mail NationTenThings@gmail.com.