The slows.

November 9, 2011 § 13 Comments

You remember the tactic.

Your parents ordered you to do something you didn’t want to do. You couldn’t say no, you weren’t in charge.

But you could do the job you didn’t want to do…very…very…slowly. And they couldn’t pulverize you because you were, after all, doing the job.

If you did it slowly enough a sympathetic parent might take pity on you and help (this happened often in my home since my mom had a crystal clear memory of being a put-upon kid). Drag the job out long enough and something more important might come up–like a house fire or bedtime. An  impatient parent might get so frustrated they’d do the job themselves. With any of these outcomes you sort of won.

Even when you did the whole job yourself the slows allowed you to maintain your dignity while lodging a silent protest.

In those days the hierarchy was simple. There was you (the underdog). And your parents (the overdog).

The chain of command is harder to diagram now that you’re a grown-up. Like a spider wrapping its prey no single thread holds you, but from the overt (I need this report on my desk by three o’clock) to the subtle (you have 439 new e-mail messages in your inbox) those seemingly flimsy threads can immobilize you.

And it’s getting worse.

As technology increases our connectedness those small threads are becoming more numerous, wrapping us more and more tightly. Individually they don’t look all that bad. But  tether your time to enough small demands and one day you wake up dead. When you do you will still have 439 new e-mail messages in your inbox.

At least when our parents were bossing us around we were being bossed by biological units who shared our need to rest, blow off steam, and occasionally eat chocolate. But now we are more and more often being bossed by almost-thinking machines that do not understand the phrases: lt’s the weekend, my kid is sick, or today is so beautiful I can’t sit at his desk another minute.

So let us return now to those golden days of yesteryear, the days of the slows. Have the reasons we dragged our feet gone away? A kid with a case of the slows is protesting their lack of power, their objection to the job at hand. Are you feeling powerful? Do you like the job at hand?

Fellow biological units, I have a proposition for you. Please join me in a mass reenactment of the slows.

In addition to being part of a righteous protest, reliving the slows would yield fringe benefits: chewing slowly enough to taste your meal, watching your baby sleep, hanging laundry on a clothes line and letting it flap in the wind, uni-tasking. I’m sure you can imagine slow outcomes of your own.

So, what do you say, want to give it a shot?

When you feel yourself weaken ask yourself this question: If I don’t get this done RIGHT NOW will anyone die? If the answer is NO continue to move slowly.

Can it work? That depends.

One person conducting a slow protest will get fired.

Ten people? Maybe it’s just something in the water.

But one million people, ten million people, a bajillion people? As the numbers rise, slow will begin to seem normal, the frenetic pace we keep now a mass craziness—could it be something in the water?

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§ 13 Responses to The slows.

  • craig reeder says:

    wow!!! this is a message we biological units really needed to hear.
    i’m slowing my breathing down right now as i speak (or type) …
    getting
    slower
    slower
    slower

    thanks!!

    Like

  • Sheila Merlau says:

    Not only does the message touch my heart, but the pictures are soul-touching. What a team you two are!

    Like

  • craig reeder says:

    Friends, please pardon me for the flippant remarks i made earlier, and allow me to reflect on the wisdom of Adrian’s words from my own experience. Each morning I sit in silent meditation and allow my mind to subside toward a state of stillness. As I approach this point, time slows down to a near standstill, and I experience sensations of peace and clarity. These feelings are highly therapeutic and help me cope with the mad rush of daily life. we all need to follow Adrian’s advice and find our own ways to slow things down, so that we can smell the proverbial roses.

    Like

  • i’m going for a walk and kick thru the leaves…

    Like

  • My student use this one on me all the time. They also like the “I don’t understand” gambit (even though you have explained it four times with video, power point and personally assisted the needy).
    I don’t know if I could slow down if I wanted to. I have to race just to keep up. Its a nice thought.

    Like

    • You are dealing with an entirely different phenomenon. I see it in classrooms too; the deliberate sabotage of learning in which the entire group collaborates to ensure that no one has to inconcenience themselves by thinking.

      All I want to do when that happens is pick them up and shake them and, while they are briefly awake, tell them the only ones they are really messing with are their future clueless selves.

      Like

  • Tgumster says:

    Way behind you, Adrian. Yes, yes ’tis the uni-tasker plodding along happily, a revolution at hand.

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    • Uni-taskers unite! Our ability to concentrate on just one thing will surely give us power (if we agree on which thing we want to collectively concentrate on). (Right now I’m concentrating on the placement of all those “ons.” Hmmm.

      Like

  • When I need a good “slow”, I rev up the ole Kindle and read, read, read. I learned early in life that reading deserves my full attention.

    I’ve been on a great “slow” with housework lately, too. I’m seeing how many months I can go before the dust get’s too thick. Darn it. While I was single-tasking at St. George last week, my hubby Hoovered and mopped. Might just have to put down the Kindle and get out the duster … next week.

    Seriously, A., I think you’ve give us a new example of protesting the multi-tasking life we lead. Thanks!

    Like

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