Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Try the Opposite of Your Natural Pace: You Might Like What You See
What I truly like about travel and being in different time zones is how naturally and organically introspection seems to come by. I usually live by giving in to my natural pace as I've come to discover that it is most likely the best one to stick to. Mother Nature knows best and all, right? Well, at least I hope she does.
A while back a dear friend of mine from Germany came to visit and one of the books she brought with her was Sten Nadolny's Die Entdeckung der Langsamkeit (The Discovery of Slowness). My friend's an avid reader and I've always made it a point to read all she recommends.
I remember being taken by the title of the book so much so that instead of breaking it open and reading it during the time she was staying over, I just kept staring at the title and the author's name over and over again. To me, that was an exercise in slowness. I'm the type who's been known to devour a new book during the time frame between lunch and dinner. In jest, I refer to this high-frequency reading activity of mine as a 'condition'. I need to read new titles as a way of feeling up to date. Since this is the kind of reading behavior I tend to espouse, staring at a book title for two weeks and having no interest in reading it at that point in time does beg for some attention, nay? Not with Nadolny's title. I went out of my way not to read it, actually. Somehow, it made more sense to me to just stare at the cover at the end of the day and that was quite a soothing and relaxing activity.
For some odd reason I've been been thinking about this experience quite a bit lately as it's always struck me as unlike me, hence worthy of some investigation. And I think I sort of know why I've revisited this title-reading experience. The title, i.e., the 'Discovery of Slowness', was, in and of itself, an exercise in slowness for me. And I've struggled with slowness enough to know that I ought to pay attention to it every time it's mentioned. By nature, I tend to espouse the opposite of slowness in life. I move quickly, speak fast, tend to absorb information and experiences quickly, and move on to the next task with a sense of urgency and past-paced purposed. All I've known is fast pace and quick movements. What tends to vex me in life has, more often than not, something to do with slowness and one of the things I try to gain some experiential knowledge of is exactly that: slowness.
Slowness and I don't run in the same circles. However, some of the experiences that I find the most enjoyable and substantial have been in the company of people who seem to be native speakers of slowness. To this day, my best travel buddy is the same German pal who brought the 'Discovery of Slowness' with her. We have a pace that's somehow congruent and I don't have a need to go at the speed of light. Slowness is hard to learn if the notion and practice is foreign to one. However, I am discovering that it is not impossible. All one needs is the right teachers to guide one along. And I'm lucky enough to have a few of them. Today alone I was in the company of three of them which made it easier to do one of my new meditation activities: stare at my feet against the dewy grass for 5 minutes or 35. I sort out a few things while doing so one of the being that my toes need a new, fresh coat of OPI.