Slow Culture, Fast World

The honeymoon is over. The bubble has popped. Reality slammed me in the face at 6 am this morning.

That tender space of suspending thinking, in which you float between the time you return from vacation and the return to the day-to-day, is filled with wonder. Your brain has emptied. Your thoughts are fluid. Your consciousness is elevated. You are on a cloud, feet barely scraping the ground. You wonder how long you can keep up the feeling. You hope it lasts far longer than it will. But you hope nonetheless.

2017-02-23 13.49.05“Maybe it will be different. This time.”

And then Monday morning comes. You wake up before the alarm with a startled thought. It’s nothing really. You made a less than optimal decision about something so banal that it’s not even worth thinking about. But you do. And then you get mad that your bliss has been disrupted by something so meaningless.

Just yesterday I chat with my neighbor, revealing I had just returned from the most life-changing trip to Nepal and India. His eyes lit up and he began his tirade about what’s wrong with Western civilization.

“Why do we keep running? Toward what?”

He summed it up beautifully.

“We are distracting ourselves from the thought of death.”

Perhaps he is right, I thought. But I wasn’t ready to take on those thoughts just yet. I guarded my bubble carefully, going on to my yoga class for a moment of “Om”.

In the evening I wasn’t feeling particularly fearful or distracted or worried or annoyed. I drank lots of water and went to bed early. And then morning came with the reality that I had some even harder decisions to make that might rattle even the most Zen-like person. I watched my age-old fear awaken from its slumber, stilled only for the time it took me to realize it is alive and well.

Stay in your center, stay in your center, I told myself as I brushed my teeth, feeling like Julia Robert’s character, Elizabeth Gilbert, in Eat, Pray, Love.

Momentarily, I have regained ground on myself. Filled with Slow Culture, I cannot deny that it feels strange to be back in a fast, fast world.

The feeling is slipping slightly. I have lost a noticeable grip on the ephemeral sensation of alignment. But I know where to get it when I really need it.

Deep within in the archives of my memory of what has been, what is and what shall be.


La vie est belle

My grandmother had a sign above her kitchen sink that read „Life Can Be Beautiful“. She would emphasize the “can” in the phrase, indicating she had seen some less than beautiful things in her life. I will always remember her philosophy, even though she is no longer here to share it with the world.

There is so much beauty in life. Every moment offers an opportunity to seek it out. Such was my experience recently on a train in France.

The train came to a halt just a few miles before my stop. In the late August heat I tried to decipher what the train conductor was telling us in French over the loudspeakers. After about thirty minutes, we were told we had to head back to the prior stop due to ‘track issues’. I looked at the guy next to me and asked him, in halting French, if he spoke English or German. He lit up.

“English. A little bit!”

We proceeded to speak French instead. I learned he was going to pick up a new car and had to drive nine hours back to Bordeaux the same day. He seemed unfazed by the delay. His Zen-like attitude was contagious and I settled in for the hour’s wait with delight. He bought me a Coke at the next stop and we chatted in French for the remainder of the time.

“We could be complaining right now like some of the people I saw who chose to wait on the platform,” he said to me. “But instead, we are using our time to the best of our ability.”

“Oui,” I replied. “La vie est belle!”

I couldn’t resist telling him about The Power of Slow. He already had the mindset. I was impressed!

As we parted ways, I headed for my hotel. And when I did, I saw Julia Roberts smiling at me from this poster. In that moment I swear I could feel my grandmother smiling too.