Slow (adjective) : moving or operating, or designed to do so, only at a low speed; not quick or fast. synonyms: unhurried, leisurely, steady, sedate, poky, sluggish
Every year, January 1st brings a wave of declarations and intentions splashing across my facebook page. I've hardly started purging the house of Christmas clutter and somehow it seems everyone else has already shaken off the dust of the old year and moved headlong into the new.
In the face of it, I find myself feeling out of pace. Here I am spinning my wheels while the rest of the world races ahead.
Pining my slowness earlier this week, I thought of my paternal Grandma. She never did anything fast, as far as I can remember. She ate slow, walked slow, talked slow. She buttered bread slow and somehow managed to make large dinners that were ready right-on-time while working at a snail's pace.
Recalling her slow ways, I remembered the comfort she gave even in the midst of (or perhaps because of) her predictable slowness. I remember her lamenting once, during a visit to an Amish farm in Lancaster PA, how she missed the slowness of the old days, how everything was so hurried now, she felt she couldn't keep up.
Remembering my Grandma's slowness, I felt less alone, more able to accept my own, often poky, pace.
Slow isn't sexy. A poky puppy is cute, but doesn't hold our attention span for long when the rest of the world is racing by. And, though we offer lip-service to the value of 'slowing down' or embracing an 'unhurried' life, we're quick to defend our productivity lest we somehow be deemed lazy or, worse, slow.
I guess it's one thing to choose slow. Another to be slow, by nature.
This morning, while pushing myself to get ahead and make up for my slow, I remembered a conversation my husband had with my mother-in-law when he first told her we were dating.
His mom asked, among other things, "If she fast? Can she get things done?"
It's was a funny question to ask, because my husband lives on the slow side of things as well. Maybe she thought he needed someone to kick-up the pace and keep things moving along?
Whatever she had in mind, it was not to be. My husband answered immediately and with certainty, "No, I've never seen her do anything fast."
Remembering his reply, I smiled, and felt another layer of self-imposed judgement about the pace at which I live, slide off, like an ill-fitting skin.
I think there are a lot of people who miss slow, but most of us feel we can't really afford it. Here, I guess, is where the slow people (like me) have something to offer. Hitching along at our leisurely pace we seem to stand out as a symbol that slow is not lost and, what's more, slow is sustainable. Slow may even be the only sustainable speed in a world committed to fast without pause.
What struck me most in the online definition of slow quoted above, is the phrase "designed to do so." Maybe that's what I am - designed to move slowly, to offer steady in a world off-kilter. I like the way that phrase hints at the intentionality of making something (or someone) slow. Almost like slow itself has a purpose or is a gift.
Who needs the gift of your slow today? What practices help you live more in tune with your own natural pace?