Slow Down and Live More

Slow Down

We, humans, are rather strange beings.

As kids, we can’t wait to grow up so that we have lesser restrictions on what we can (and can’t) do. As teenagers, we can’t wait to stop or finish studying and make that foray into early adulthood, which we all perceive to be an amazing time to be alive in. Of course, eventually, when we get to adulthood, and tick a lot of the other ‘fun’ boxes that we had dreamt of as kids, we sort of get tired of ‘adult-ing’ now and then and dream about getting rich quickly and retiring with our pots of gold.

Why? So that we can relax. Again.

Perhaps the irony of all this is that while most of us spend time chasing the things we want, we often forget that our life is but one giant hourglass with the sand slowly tricking away, few grains at a time. By all means,  do chase your dreams and have a plan. But perhaps, it is sometimes a good idea to realise that the ‘thing’ that we are actually chasing is ‘time’ itself.

I am no expert, but much like with everything else, we seem to focus a lot more on the destination than the journey itself, often forgetting that the latter is what often gives us those important lessons that we sometimes miss. I admit; there is absolutely nothing wrong with scheduling your life down to a T. I know plenty of them who do that. In fact, I’m married to one of them. And in today’s age, where resources are far more scarce than consumers, it is imperative that we do plan a little ahead. But that shouldn’t stop us from living a bit in the present.

We live in a hurried world with jobs, families, kids, career, responsibilities and much more that constantly force us to be in ‘Get Shit Done!’ mode. In fact, there have been times when we have asked our little one on Sunday itself about the things he’d like to do the following weekend so that we can plan ahead. In retrospect though, I often wonder if it takes away something that makes us excited about an activity or a task. The element of surprise and the joy of the activity itself.

Back when we were in London, there’s one thing that used to drive me absolutely insane. Retail stores and shopping malls would start playing Christmas songs as early as in mid-October. Now, it may sound silly to a lot of you, but it sort of killed the whole joy the festive period in my head. Here we are with almost 2 months to go, already listening to Jingle Bells on loop. I mean, I did appreciate that there was a little nip in the air and stores were advertising gifts, hot chocolate and mulled wine. But to be honest, by the time it actually got around to December, most of us were probably so tired of it all that everything from carols to special offers just became a giant killjoy. And I see it happen here too. Weeks and even a month before Diwali, most shopping malls in Bangalore are already advertising special offers, diyas surround us left, right and centre and the whole malls are lit up enough for them to be seen from space. By the time we actually get to Diwali day, we’ve already been subjected to an overdose of celebration, adverts, offers and sweets that it sometimes feels just plain awkward and nothing more than a long weekend.

 

And it’s not just festivals and events. We seem to rush through everything – seasons, life, relationships, even sleep. To be honest, I crave for simpler times. Just like when we never used to plan so much in advance about even the tiniest things and lived in the present, sometimes even doing nothing more than lazing around and doing something silly and fun with family.

But perhaps, the worst thing to have happened to us with regards to all this rush is this concept of packaged holidays. I understand that given the fact that we have very little time and resources (and money), packaged holidays are perhaps the most practical things to do sometimes. And thanks to ‘them’, we suddenly live in a world where a substantial portion of the populace have actually been to multiple countries and tourist destinations than their predecessors. Yes, it helps a lot of us tick off some of those places from our bucket list, but please don’t call yourself well-travelled. Cramming 100 things into a space of 7 days, visiting mostly tourist sights and doing touristy stuff does not make you well travelled. Except maybe on Instagram or social media perhaps.

By all means, do some touristy stuff. Do explore, talk to others, make friends and plans with them. Make them with your family too. But slow down. Enjoy some of the local stuff. Don’t be in a hurry to fill up the pages of your passport with as many stamps as you can. Slow down and make some memories. Put that camera away occasionally, and that mobile phone and tablets too. Yes, I realise the irony of that – mostly because I don’t do that. But I am starting to now.

Don’t be so busy planning the weekend down to a T that you miss the daily things with the people you love – your friends, your family. Take a breather. Laze around a bit and always stop and enjoy your present.

 

There’s another trouble with rushing through life. We don’t often notice what happens in the present. It is almost a constant race against the clock. I suppose it is safe to say that in many ways our rush gives us a little high, and perhaps even some meaning to our otherwise mundane lives. The rush makes us feel like we’ve worked extra hard to get something we wanted, when in fact you may have gotten it anyway, albeit a little later. But here’s the thing that I’ve come to realise. While rushing definitely takes effort, perhaps it takes more of focus and control to actually be in the present than to rush. When we rush, we are often in the zone and in the urge to push through to the end. But living in the moment requires us to resist this urge, which then makes you more aware and more in touch with the people and things around you.

Perhaps though, it is to do with some of our conditioning. We are all sort of pre-programmed in a certain way from day one. We are constantly told that the opportunities are there – in the future. And true as that might be, often it is also a classic case of missing opportunities in the present. From work to friends to even love. I am not against competitiveness. It makes you want to improve. But it’s important to slow down and take it all in too. And the opportunities of the present may bring more happiness than worrying about others pushing past you. Yes, resources are limited, but then so is your time here. So use them both wisely.

Maybe the trouble is that we focus too much on achievement than the experience. Which coincidentally is the same trouble with our academic system. Or rather has been for many generations. Achievements are good. They should be celebrated. But perhaps they shouldn’t always come at the cost of something else that you messed up along the way.

I realise that I have no right to ‘preach’ about all this. I have been on both sides of the fence – from wishing there were 25 hours in a day so I could do more, to sort of just zoning off without being aware of what’s going on around me. But I’d like to think that I’ve changed. Or at least I am trying to. And not trying to cram too much into every single day and experiencing the present are things that I’m trying to do more of these days.

 

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31 Comments

  1. Very nice post. I merely stumbled upon your journal and wished to mention that I even have extremely enjoyed browsing your weblog posts. finally I’ll be subscribing on your feed and that i am hoping you write once more terribly soon!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I am not much of a planner. Never been one so in many ways, I am not running ever to get things done. I like it slow and on its own pace. However, I like the festival thing. Since it builds up the excitement for me. The lights and the jingles make me look forward and sometimes plan what can I do 🙂

    Destination is good but the journey is what matters. Isn’t life that journey we should enjoy?

    Great post, Sid and very happy to see you back! Hope you are well!

  3. First, it’s good to have you back here.
    I’m not much of a planner but I’ve realised it through plenty of bad experiences that in today’s times it is essential to do that. All of us have such busy schedules that coordinating with everyone – the kids’ holidays, the husband’s schedule, the maids (!) — all of that has to work together even for a simple holiday.
    I do agree with you though about focussing on the journey rather than the destination specially because most of our lives will be spent along the way.
    Oh and you’re so right about the festivals. The final day never lives up to the huge buildup that precedes it.

    1. It’s good to be back, Tulika. Although I need to remind myself not to disappear off too much again.
      Yeah, coordinating stuff does require planning. Especially when there are many others involved. But hey, we should at least try for a ‘free run’ sometimes.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  4. Ideally yes, but not planning is just not possible. One has to plan on a daily basis and also things like travel, future etc. About travel, it is exactly how I am. I loathe following a list of stuff to see. I like to meet with people, soak in the place and mostly just read, play games and even sleep a lot. What is the point of rushing from one point to another and not enjoying anything?

    Living in the moment is something we all aspire for. Having a clear idea of priorities is important. I see many of us just while away endless time on social media or browsing and then crib incessantly about not having time. That is not the problem of not having time but of not knowing how to utilize it properly. Slow down. Do what you enjoy. Balance your life. There is after all only one life to live. A pertinent message that we all should reiterate from time to time.

    1. I agree – it’s not always possible. And I am never against planning. I plan too 🙂
      I guess planning every little thing, sometimes takes the fun. An overall plan, perhaps.
      The point though was that sometimes we need to just focus on the present than chasing after the future alone.
      Thank you for your lovely input, Rachna.
      I have always been in awe about how you manage everything – from work to family. It has only increased my respect for you.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  5. I’m OCD about planning because if I don’t plan then I can’t get all the to-dos checked off my list. Having said that this is also the reason why I’m so stressed out these days. But I’m so far in it that I don’t know how to escape this cycle.

  6. This is me, relaxed, even lazy. I so agree about visiting one place and soaking in the spirit of the place rather than ticking boxes. Or about rushing into celebrations before time. Our concentration and patience spans are diminishing by the day. If a page doesn’t load quickly, we chuck it. Move ahead. Wonder where we are rushing. Lovely post.

  7. Agreed totally. I have tried it once in a while. Spending away weekends without any plans, taking a day off just for myself and it does feel so peaceful before we jump again into the rat race! Like the wise people say, Good things come to those who wait, so let’s wait a while than running after them!

  8. I really enjoyed the post. This reminded me of my childhood vacations and the days of camera rolls when taking pictures used to be an expensive affair. If I close my eyes today, I can still visualise those places because I truly lived those moments.

    Everything is so rushed these days that we seldom forget to enjoy it and as you mentioned, one must slow down to experience the journey.

    1. Ah, good times those. I guess part of the blame will still go to technology – when using film, we try and get the perfect capture in one go. Which means we naturally tend to slow down because we get one (or rather very few) shots at that.

      I’m glad that you have fond childhood memories to bring up and in a way, happy that my post invoked those this time around.
      Thanks, Manisha.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  9. I received your post notification in my inbox just in time. I was, literally, running through my days juggling between home, kids and whatever little achievements I wanted to accomplish. I am reminded, for the nth time, to slow down. We’ll, your words reminded….. That honesty somewhere hidden and blended with every sentence you write!

    1. I am so glad that my post came through at the right time for you. Apologies if that sounds a little narcissistic of me, but I am glad that it brought some positivity in thought. We’re all here to try and help each other out in whatever way we can.
      Thank you for your lovely words, Nandhini.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  10. Excellent read Sid. We are always trying to reach somewhere while losing the joy of travelling and discovering something new. I also agree on the touristy bits and the over 100 photos posted holidays. It is not really travel. I personally know someone who travels to places just to get her photos clicked. And then there is no interest in the location. Such a waste of time. Also, there is no better time to do anything. It is always now or never.

    1. Thanks, Lata. Glad you could relate to it.
      Oh, don’t even get me started on ‘travelling for Instagram’ fad that seems to have caught everyone. I don’t see any issue with photos being captured and shared, but when you try to cram so many things in, you miss the beauty of the little things.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  11. Excellent post Sid. We need to savour each moment rather than rushing towards it. In this age when there’s an overload of everything, those who have found the balance are the ones who are living their life right. You covered so many points in your post. It serves as a reminder for us to live life the way it’s meant to be.

  12. Sid, I agree with you. We live in smart times with our gadgets and quality times but sometimes miss out on good times along the way. There should be a balance between impromptu trips and well thought out plans.Life is more than our visibility on social media platforms and likes from followers. Great post.

    1. Absolutely, Sulekha. I’m all for technology and gadgets – but I’ve missed out on so many things too. And I can’t always blame technology for that. Some of it is just needed a change in my mindset.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  13. I keep telling myself this, I keep wanting to but then everything is so hurried. I sometimes forget to enjoy the things that matter the most. I guess that is what happens with most if the people. And a reminder like this to slow down, never hurt anyone. 🙂

    1. Yes, I cannot stress enough how important it is for *you* to do this. I know how stressed out you are; but learn to relax, Jai. Find time to do the things you love. Even if you have to discard some of the ‘toxic waste’ from your life.
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  14. You’ve touched upon so many topics at once in this post, Sid. The beauty of savouring moments, the ‘real’ relaxation that comes with loved ones, the unhurried and incomparable path that we must create for ourselves and also not just see a place, but feel and absorb it.
    Do no chase time. That is one thing that’s sure going to win over you, hands down.

  15. Not planning things ahead of time, doesn’t appeal much to the Monica in me, but these days I’m learning to let go. I know that I do not have to be in control all the time, but the stuff that I have gone through in the past makes me want to get back to making a list.

    What you say is a 100% true. Sometimes you build up an event so much in your mind that when you finally get there, it feels like bleh. It has happened way too many times and I guess that is how it works. But when something is important, it is hard to not look forward to it.

    Having said that, it is very important to enjoy the little things in day to day life. I might be the one who wants to be in control all the time, but I’m thankful to have people like you in my life who make me feel happy and alive all the time.

    1. Haha! Yeah, I did think your ‘inner Monica’ may find this a little difficult to digest. But I guess the key is sometimes to let it all be a little . . . for the lack of a better phrase . . formless; maybe it’ll materialise into something wonderful.

      And Aww! I’m glad to play a little role in your life too 🙂
      Sid recently put up this awesome post : Slow Down and Live MoreMy Profile

  16. Well said. This book I’m reading, being mortal, touches on this too. We have one life. What matters to you is how your experiences have shaped you and what your priorities are. A necessary read for many, Sid.

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