I didn’t realize this week was International Slow Down Week until I read Debra’s post yesterday on BlogHer. I wonder…would it have made a difference in my week if I’d known about it earlier? We mail cards when someone has a birthday and buy romantic gifts on Valentine’s Day. But those activities don’t require a long time commitment. Could we really be expected to slow down for an entire week? Or is this simply an invitation to be more mindful about how we spend our time?
Some people already live their lives outside the craziness of the rat race — or maybe the craziness in your life comes and goes. But I imagine the people most likely to participate in a slow-down week are those who already appreciate the value of a slower lifestyle. The busy people read about it and say, “No, thanks. I don’t have time for that.”
I don’t feel like I need to slow down, but my definition of having something constantly going on would probably be different from someone else’s. I like mental stimulation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to leave the house or seek it out in a social context. It’s just that…if I want to relax, I’d rather reach for a book than meditate. If I exercise, I’d rather walk or get on the elliptical than do yoga.
I don’t like to sit still if I’m not doing something. If I’m watching TV (somewhere other than my apartment, since I don’t have cable), I’ll have a book or magazine nearby so that I could look at it during commercial breaks. I’ve been watching more DVDs since I joined Blockbuster’s online service, but I mostly rent documentaries and dramas — and even those have their slow parts. I find myself getting up to straighten something in the living room, or to open mail, while keeping an ear out to what’s happening on the screen — ready to turn back once something “interesting” comes on.
And what about my love for audiobooks? Some people think they’re relaxing. And they are…or can be. But what if you use them as entertainment for the times when it isn’t possible to do anything else? For instance, I think putting on makeup in front of a mirror can be pretty mind-numbing. Everyone knows that I listen to audiobooks in the car, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that ever since I moved to Alexandria last October, I’m usually listening to two audiobooks at the same time. One stays in the car, and the other one is inside. I listen to the one inside whenever I have to stand still (putting on makeup), and when I get on the elliptical. (Since I only listen to the audiobooks for 10-30 minutes at a stretch, they can take a while to get through — but, still, it adds up.)
Now that I’ve gotten used to listening to audiobooks in the car, I can’t imagine driving to work without one. I was running behind one day and actually got down the road a little ways before I realized my current audiobook was about to end. I turned around and went home to get a new one. (I would like to thank the library for providing this service — it would be prohibitively expensive to buy so many.)
So, for me, a slow-down week seems more like a chore than a benefit — at least if it takes me away from something I’d rather be doing. Does reading blogs count?