The return of Philosophy Phridays….

I was surprised and enlightened by the response to my off-the-cuff comments about the pace of life and the ubiquity of social media. I seem to have struck a chord. If so many of us want to slow down, why are we all still going so fast?

An oasis of slow living in the midst of a fast life: lunch at Angelo's forge

A large part of the reason, surely, has to be the peer pressure to always be available. Ever since I returned to dry land, I have been fighting a losing battle with my Inbox. The messages are exciting and they are welcome, but there are so very many of them. I would like to think that this is because I am so spectacularly popular (!) but in truth, this seems to be a pervasive problem that is shared by most of my friends. We all wish we had less email, more time.

Don’t get me wrong. Communication is good. Relationships are essential to happiness and wellbeing. But how do we ensure that we don’t sacrifice quality to quantity? How do we make sure that we don’t mistake communication for connection? It is easy to communicate with somebody, but harder to truly connect with them on an emotional and energetic level that enhances the lives of both individuals.

One of my back-to-dry-land resolutions is to work at making time to have deep and meaningful conversations. Ideally in person, but it is possible to be deep and meaningful online too – if you have enough time. So far, my resolution has not been particularly successful. My rushed lunch at Angelo’s forge. My hectic schedule across 4 cities in 2 weeks. It is far easier said than done.

I remember back to the summer of 2004, my own personal “Summer of Love” – love for the world, love for my new life, love for the limitless opportunities opening up to me when I let go of the fears and limitations of my old life. Time was on my side. I allowed conversations to reach their natural conclusions. I took time to enjoy the smell and sight of a flower, or to enjoy the shade of a tree, or to savour a meal break away from my laptop.

Magic ensued. I had that blinding flash of inspiration to row across oceans to raise environmental awareness. I had allowed my subconscious the time and space to percolate the inputs and produce an output. I yearn for that to happen again.

When my consciousness is being bombarded by input, there is no opportunity for the outputs to happen. It’s like the ideas are trying to get out through a doorway that is jammed by incoming traffic. At this formative stage of my life, as I consider my plans for the next 7 years, I need to relax, slow down, kick back, and allow the wisdom to emerge.

How do you make me-time in your busy day? I’d love to hear from you.

Other Stuff:

I have just arrived in London, via a busy 36 hours in New York. I am here until Sunday, before heading to Oxford. A quick glimpse into my diary:

Friday: various meetings with agents, collaborators, and friends in London

Saturday: interview on¬†“Excess Baggage” on BBC Radio 4 with John McCarthy, who may know a thing or two about being confined in small spaces. In the evening, receiving Guinness world records certificates at the Ocean Rowing Society dinner.

Sunday: afternoon event in Oxford to hear Jeremy Naydler talking about his book, Gardening As A Sacred Art, then dinner at my Oxford alma mater, University College

 

Monday-Tuesday: staying in Oxfordshire with my friend Jane Hornsby, who was our fearless navigator on the walk from Big Ben To Brussels in 2009

Wednesday: back to New York!

 

 

 

 

 

18 Comments

  • Letters of the alphabet by themselves are not communication, no more than Morse Code from a distressed ship at sea is. Text is fine when time is of no concern (they can pick up the email when they return from their meeting), but it’s no replacement for true person-to-person contact. The human voice is better than email, and face-to-face meetings are better than voice. I am, no doubt, alone in my distain for text messaging. All text messages are blocked on my mobile phone by the provider. If someone needs me so badly, they can use the phone the way God intended and actually *talk* to me! As a computer programmer, I know how critical it is to keep one’s tools and equipment in top working condition. There’s nothing more critical in my line of work than the ability to think and reason. A certain amount of “me-time” is required to keep the old “wet-ware” running smoothly, and I take that as seriously as I do my daily computer backups and software updates. Mental health is as important as the physical kind, and you abuse either one at your peril.
    In short, how do I manage “me-time”? I schedule it like I do everything else, and unless someone has a dire emergency that absolutely, positively cannot wait, I enforce that schedule ruthlessly. I don’t do Pre-emptive Multitasking.

  • When practicing martial arts, my instructor had me bow to the dojo before entering and exiting… I just do that to all things now. Sometimes when I walk past a flower, when I leave a coffee shop or my neighbors swimming pool. When I enter the room of a patient … and when my computer is logging off ūüôā I walk a hallowed path and it has made all the difference.

    Cheers Roz, I am amazed at the sacredness of your path!

    ~Jay

  • Roz….i.used also to work for a financial institution.i gave it up as it obecame something that was not good for me in many ways. I am now in the happy position of being retired…and finally can be in total control of my time.! All i can say is, turn off the phone for an hour…disconnect every other form of communication and wallow in a self indulgent bath etc !! communication will always wait for an hour or two .pamper your mind with a treat:). I live in nort oxon so if you are happening by a local hostellry my wife and i would be very happy to have conversation:) thanks for being you:). David church

  • All my time is “me” time. When I’m doing something at another’s behest my reward is their satisfaction. When acting in my own interest the reward is in my achievement. Often the two combine. I limit communication to what is necessary, either practically or socially, and, again, they often combine. I have a great deal that I would like to discuss with (for example) Roz, but realise that she has insufficient time (and, who knows, maybe even interest) to be bothered with it so I don’t.

  • It’s not much time and not ideally contemplative but I call from 7:00 to 10:00 am weekdays “my time.” After getting ready for the day – clean up, dress, etc, I walk to one of my neighborhood coffee shops. I grab a seat in a corner, grab a cuppa, scan the newspaper for anything worth reading, check out articles that are then do a crossword puzzle. At this point I have finished my first cup of coffee/tea and I get a refill.

    For the next two hours I read or write or stare at the wall. (I often get strange looks that catch my eye when I am sitting looking at nothing) If something in a book, technical journal or newspaper piece stimulates me I will grab my lap top and jot down ideas and maybe even write a “letter to the editor” or a “blog” posting if my thoughts are well enough developed. Sometimes I write random thoughts in a journal. Sometimes I use the time to do formal writing (I review a book a month for a local outdoor magazine).

    After this little session I have usually figured out things I want to focus on for the day or community issues I want to pursue in the immediate future. I pack up, bus my table and enjoy the 5 – 10 minute walk back home to start my “real” day.¬†

  • Ahhh, now this – for a change – is something I am good at.¬† If you ever want to see a slow, low impact lifestyle, come live at my house for a few months.¬† But I warn you, you might not survive the “boredom transition” (especially in the winter).

  • as of this moment I have 674 unread emails in my inbox and most of those will not get read. ¬†Fortunately my email program has a method of filtering emails so that those from people I deem most important of being read get sent to their own folders where they get my attention.

    Would you believe that people now make appointments to talk on the phone via email or text rather than just picking up the phone and calling!  It is considered by a large subset of people that the unplanned phone call is rude and invasive!  What are we thinking?

    Two books you might find interesting on this subject are:

    “Relational Reality: New discoveries of interrelatedness that are transforming the modern world” by my friend Charlene Spretnak.

    the other one is . . . 

    “Alone Together: why we expect more from technology and less from each other” by Sherry Turkle

  • After a “slow” day at home, I went downtown for some “fast living” and just now returned from nearly five hours of me time … this evening from 5 pm to 9 pm was the 2nd Fiesta Mariachi Dos de Hayward on the City Hall Plaza … food, drinks, handicrafts, Joe’s Honey from the community garden … and wall to wall musica mariachi.¬†

    It started with a very large kids group (Mariachi Juvenil de Hayward), then three professional bands (Mariachi Femenil, Mariachi Mexicanisimo, and Mariachi Los Halcones). 

    The half-hour grand finale combined all 29 musicians of the three professional bands and a handful of the kids … and the audience was totally involved.

    It is now nearly 10 pm and I am energizing from a sizzling slow evening. ¬†Now, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms …
    Go slow, highly energized, Roz ;-D

  • Roz:

    I would think that life after such an amazing accomplishment will HAVE to be hectic for a while – there is an urgency to acknowledge the accolades which no doubt are cluttering up your ‘inbox.” ¬†However, once this frenetic schedule dies down a bit, it would be up to you to perhaps decline some events, or at least pick and choose only those that you feel you MUST attend.¬†¬†¬†We push ourselves to believe that it is all necessary, but in the end, one event less here or there will not the end be. Too much with too little may not be the best recipe for a more meaningful journey; it all depends on what we wan,t or need. However¬†something tells me you quite enjoy being the social butterfly Roz – I certainly would, especially after five months at sea alone – without even a “Wilson” to converse with! (Something tells me the little pirate was not a chatty fellow…)¬†Undoubtedly this time around there are even more Rozlings and more Roz fans, but neither the message nor the messenger shall pale if there are lulls in between. ¬†Dear Roz, don’t trade the oars in for a motor!¬†

  • I’m very much looking forward to hearing you chat to the wonderful John McCarthy later this morning.

    As to slow living – I’m consciously incorporating more of it into my own life, doing less, slowing down and taking much more time to ‘smell the roses’. And, as others above have said, reducing emails, texting and unnecessary ‘busy work’. Today’s society seems to be fast becoming overwhelmed by the speed of life and all its ‘tools’ – wonderful though they are – and there’s a big spiritual cost.

    Perhaps when you’re next here for longer we can have a nice long, slow, lunch to talk about it all!

  • During the week, my me-time happens at lunch time: It’s when I run and hear my own thoughts. Then on week-ends I escape to the country side, where time slows down and I almost forget fast living. But then again, Monday arrives… Congratulations on your achievements Roz. You do inspire people!

  • Wow to this blog.¬†

    “It‚Äôs like the ideas are trying to get out through a doorway that is jammed by incoming traffic.”¬†

    So true. That’s what I put into the category of moving in “circles” rather than a straight line. In my opinion email and other digital interfaces will “clog your door” and only present a hamster-wheel fun house. We feel like we’re accomplishing something–but in fact we are only going in circles. I view most online/computer activity as a surrogate for television. (Why am I reading this blog on the computer, then? Because it’s enriching and thought provoking!! Yours is the only blog I read.)¬†

    To me true accomplishment is growth for me and for my family (dog, walking sticks, cat, and guinea pigs get off the hook). Personal growth and professional growth are more and more the same thing now for me. It took a while but I think I’ve finally managed to line them up so they’re both compatible.¬†

    The kind of busy that gets you where you want to go is the good kind of busy. The kind of busy that distracts from goals is bad busy. There’s an old wise saying printed on a jute grocery handbag I have: “Stop drifting. Start rowing.” It’s a good saying. There’s a different kind of “rowing” to be done on dry land, with different currents and headwinds–but it’s all the same conceptually. Set a course and make progress. Don’t get distracted. Prune unnecessary things. When things do come up, no worries–attend to them, then keep going.¬†

  • Another string of ideas after mulling over this blog for a while:

    We have no chance of finding what we’re looking for unless we know exactly what it is we’re looking for.¬†

    This could be applied to car keys or deeper philosophical items. In a rush out the door I sometimes forget what I’m looking for, making it impossible to find, until I stop to remember what it was. (Not a good sign, I know.)

    How do we “remember” what to look for? I haven’t the slightest clue!¬†

    Clear the Inbox? Give ourselves time to cogitate? Enjoying life and having many good laughs in good company certainly doesn’t hurt. Even if you don’t remember where the “car keys” are, at least you had a good time looking for them.¬†

  • It was really nice to meet you at Green’s and to also meet some of the others who support you in various ways. (Thank you Jay for organizing the event.)¬†
    I’ve been a minnow following along for 4 years and it was special to meet some of the bigger fish. I suppose now that you are on land I will have to become a marmot instead of a Rozling minnow.¬†Regarding email….it is challenging especially for you when you’ve been away for so long. I was joking when I told you that you should just delete it all. It’s something that I like to think about doing at work when the emails seem overwhelming.¬†I love technology but limit it to what I actually need. No facebook or twitter for me. Your blog is the only one I follow because it rings so true.¬†During the day I often hit the “pause” button to check in…or out. Take a breathe and make sure I’m paying attention. It’s like what is done before a surgery…a time out to make sure everything is in order and the correct patient is on the table. :)(I should have done that today as I ran out for a long hike and forgot my water bottle.) Before bed I always take a moment to think of all the positive things that happened during the day. That offsets the 4am worry about everything time.
    Cindy

    • Cindy – that is great advice. Pausing and breathing is key. A wise woman in Devon once suggested taking a “breathing moment” while going to the bathroom! It’s actually quite a good prompt, as we all have to pee, and it ensures at least a few breathing moments per day!

  • It was really nice to meet you at Green’s and to also meet some of the others who support you in various ways. (Thank you Jay for organizing the event.)¬†
    I’ve been a minnow following along for 4 years and it was special to meet some of the bigger fish. I suppose now that you are on land I will have to become a marmot instead of a Rozling minnow.¬†Regarding email….it is challenging especially for you when you’ve been away for so long. I was joking when I told you that you should just delete it all. It’s something that I like to think about doing at work when the emails seem overwhelming.¬†I love technology but limit it to what I actually need. No facebook or twitter for me. Your blog is the only one I follow because it rings so true.¬†During the day I often hit the “pause” button to check in…or out. Take a breathe and make sure I’m paying attention. It’s like what is done before a surgery…a time out to make sure everything is in order and the correct patient is on the table. :)(I should have done that today as I ran out for a long hike and forgot my water bottle.) Before bed I always take a moment to think of all the positive things that happened during the day. That offsets the 4am worry about everything time.
    Cindy

  • I teach fourth and fifth grade and as hard as I try to stop it, at least in my little corner of the world, the words “excuse me” have disappeared from the English language.¬† They have been replaced by the word wait.¬† As in, “wait, what are we supposed to do, again?”¬† I try to point out the polite form of the question to individual students, and even to the entire group, but to no avail.¬† Sometimes I even make jokes about it and ask them what I should wait for.¬† I finally came to realize that most of my students are not aware that they are using the word at all.¬† It is a habit, not a conscious choice.¬† So here is my question to all of you:¬† Is this just yet another example of the demise of simple politeness, or are we all moving too fast?¬† Wait.

  • Hi Ros, the website¬†http://zenhabits.net/¬†has some great stuff about slowing down and living simply which might you might like.

    P.S. I noticed that the URL for this post is “fast-livin” with the g missing at the end. Was that a time saving measure for your hectic life!?

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