Praising Slowness

I hope you had a great Mothers Day yesterday. Mine was quiet, my youngest son and his family celebrated with me last weekend and this week they are on vacation. My eldest son and his family stopped by for a short visit, afterwards I spent some time working on the second guitar I was asked to transform and took time to pick up a book I’ve been reading called In Praise of Slowness. I never questioned how we came to allow a clock to dictate our lives, have you? According to this book it wasn’t easy to convince society to accept a life dictate by a mechanical invention.

Have you ever considered living without a clock to tell you when to wake up, prepare a meal, go to sleep, or any of the other things in our lives that we allow time to dictate?

A few years ago, with both my boys out on their own, working from home I realized I didn’t need, or want, to follow a clock any longer. I was tired of living my life on a schedule. I got rid of all the clocks in the house, with the exception of the ones on the phone and computer. I learned rather quickly that I could figure roughly what time it was by the angle and brilliance of light coming in the windows.

I began to eat only when I was hungry, or instinctively, and when to wake by the same light. I am more rested and healthier as a result.

The act of ridding myself of the clocks in each room was an important first step in slowing my life and taking control. I find I get much more enjoyment from the activities I pursue by allowing myself to work until I am ready to walk away. No longer do I keep glancing at the clock telling myself I need to hurry because its time to prepare dinner, or some other activity I believed I needed to perform at a specific time.

“He who has set his heart exclusively upon the pursuit of worldly welfare is always in a hurry, for he has but a limited time at his disposal to reach, grasp, and to enjoy it”. Alex de Tocqueville said this about our need to shop.

When we want all the material belongings society wants us to believe we need we find ourselves hurrying through life, to shop we need to work more. We are over scheduled and rushed. Is it no wonder people report being less happy today than past generations did?

This quote from the book stood out for me “How much,if any, material wealth will we have to sacrifice, individually and collectively, in order to live slow.”. In pondering this comment I again came to the same conclusions. Living a slower life has been much more rewarding than life scheduled to the hilt, running from work to the next obligation left me so over tired even a good night’s sleep was hard to achieve.

I want to leave you with something that made me smile knowing the next generation may be smarter than we were. My granddaughter began a conversation with me about growing up. She then asked if I knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. I noticed she said “do”, not “be”. Her answer was “I want to paint, grow flowers, grow a garden of my food, and bake lots of cakes and cupcakes”. First, I had to laugh because while she loves working in a kitchen and has convinced her parents to allow her to watch Betty Crocker baking videos on YouTube she doesn’t like to eat cake.

I couldn’t help smiling because I hope whether it’s these specific activities or other she may eventually enjoy, I want the very same for her, a life filled with the activities she enjoys and the time to pursue them, hopefully without the guilt we feel when that clock tells us we should be doing something else less rewarding.

Is your life still managed by a clock?

37 thoughts on “Praising Slowness

  1. I am attached to a clock more than I would like to be. Fairly unavoidable at this point in my life, since I’m married to a military man who hates to be late. I do remember a time(no pun intended), when my watch had broken and I just never got around to buying a new one. I was so used to not having one, that I could almost always state the time within five minutes of what it actually was. I really miss that.

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    • My son was in the military as well so I know exactly what you mean about needing to live by a clock for now. There is a much greater emphasis and consequence for tardiness. I’m glad you got to experience life without your watch, if you hold on to the memory of how that felt for you, there may come a time when it will be an option for you again. My thoughts are with you and your husband, I hope he is never in a dangerous situation during his tour.

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  2. What a lovely answer your granddaughter gave. :-)…. Is my life ruled by the clock? Only on the days I have to work. as the alarm is set for 5-30am.. as I sleepily open one eye to turn off..
    Otherwise I quite easily can live without a time piece.. Often if I go walking in the woods with my hubby, I often experiment using my intuition I will tell my hubby that it is such and such a time, and he will check his watch, Its un-canny how near I am to the 5 minute mark… I just tap into my internal clock… We all should try it… and see how we go…

    I hate those who clock watch!……… Working for so many years in the Textile industry, clocking in and off was the rule of the day for the machinist… You would see them half hour before home time clock watching.. They said that half hour was the longest of the day… Just showing you similar to a watched Kettle never boils.. LOL…

    Time is an illusion we can make it go as slow or as fast as we want it too… my days often fly when I am absorbed in what I am doing, but then when you get up early and look back at what can be achieved also.. We can fit a whole lot of things into a couple of hours…

    Love your post today Lois!… Sending you my thoughts today… Sue x

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    • I still remember the classes in school that bored me, I would do everything but look at the clock fearing it would make the time appear to move slower.

      I do believe we have a very good internal clock. When I had to be up for work the last thought I would have before I drifted off to sleep was the time I needed to be up. Sure enough I would wake exactly when I needed. It was helpful on those nights when we lost power. I even asked my kids to try it and found it worked for them as well.

      As to my granddaughters answer, I hope she does get to do all those things, if she wants it bad enough each of those things are ways she could support herself while doing exactly what she loves. Isn’t that what life should be?

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  3. We gave up clocks and watches a long time ago and I’ve never missed them. It’s actually a form of freedom not to be strapped to the time. And you’re right … letting our bodies dictate our needs means that we are rested and happy. We also turn off our phones each night and sometimes during the day when we need to enjoy the quiet. It’s fabulous to disconnect and just breathe!

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    • I don’t turn off my phone at night out of a sense of responsibility that some one may find themselves needing help in an emergency. A while back I was reminded of why I do this when my son was rushed to the hospital from work, the only number he could remember was mine and I was able to get a hold of his wife.

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      • That’s a good point. We have no family in our part of the world so wouldn’t be able to help anyone in the middle of the night. If we did, I’d probably leave it on too.

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    • Unfortunately that is true. Fortunately for me its not often. In my home I have an open door policy as I like to call it. As long as I’m home you are welcome to stop by. My friends are pretty spontaneous so most plans are spur of the moment for me which works great.

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  4. Another great post, I wrote about this a while back and have stopped wearing my watch. My favorite quote “There is more to life than increasing it’s speed” Gandhi

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    • Jayne, I missed your post on time, I’ll have to go check it out, now that I think of it, its been a while since I have received notice of a new post on your blog. Time to find out why.😞

      Ghandi said so many things we can learn from, your favorite is one of his best.

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  5. I lived by the clock when I worked. But retired I gave up wearing a watch and seldom check the clock. And when I do glance at the clock the time is always within 30 or 40 minutes of what I thought. Guess all those years of living to a schedule have permanently imprinted my being.

    I hardly ever check the weather either. I only check in on that obsession now when a big weather event is predicted and others are talking about it.

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    • I do check the weather when I need to go somewhere as I no longer have a car. Using an electric chair the controllers cannot get wet. For instance if rain is predicted I check to make sure I have a jacket and something to cover the controller in case I get caught in it.

      But when it comes to the actual temperature I simply open the door and take a moment outside to judge if I’ll need a jacket. I also judge by the trees, if really being blown by the wind I know it will be colder as I pass around the lake.

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    • Isn’t that the truth! I was raised to never keep anyone waiting. A watch was something I couldn’t be without as I would be in for a major lecturing should I be late. I have to laugh now when my dil tell me she will be stopping by at a certain time, I have learned she is never on time, being up to an hour late. She got in the habit of apologizing each time. Its taken quite a long time, but I’ve finally convinced her its not a problem. If I have plans I tell her when she asks to stop by, but if I don’t have plans really what’s the big deal?

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    • Isn’t it surprising how accurate we are in estimating the time simply from judging it by daylight? Since I don’t have a clock by my bed when I wake I look to the window to see what time it is.

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  6. I have a clock for days when I have appointments outside my home. My time is my own and UI sleep
    when I am tired and eat when I need too.I worked as a 2nd and 3 shift nurse for years. Now I enjoy being
    able to follow my body clock.I go about my life with more mindfulness now. I accept each new day as a gift and I treasure each experience.

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    • Mary, while the need for round the clock care in a hospital is needed, I believe especially 3rd shift jobs wreak havoc on our bodies. Im sure you are enjoying the chance now to let your body dictate its needs after years of late shifts.

      For those times I may have an appointment I simply set an alarm on my phone which will give me enough time to clean up and be on time. With the alarm set I again ignore time and enjoy what I’m doing.

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  7. No, I no longer live by the clock since I finished work and I love it! I’m much better for it, no rush for anything as long as hubby gets his dinner before 8 pm – and I seem to be achieving heaps just plodding along at my own pace.

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  8. My life is managed by a clock, cause I work. And I work with others, so we all need to come together. Likewise, on a Sunday, the clock rules, due to church and my responsibilities there. I also find myself sometimes getting lonely or sad when I don’t have much on, a schedule, one could say. Structure helps me, rather than hinders me.

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  9. This is how I have lived for many years. The only time I set an alarm is if I have to get up really early to be somewhere, and then I usually wake up before the alarm. I don’t have much I have to do outside my home, so it is easy for me to live this way. Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for your inspiration.

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    • Nancy, it is wonderful to meet other people, like you, who have decided to live without a clock dictating their actions. I have no one around me who has tried this. So many people are lost when visiting me because there is no clock for them to watch. I see them checking their wrist or cell phones for the time out of I suspect is habit more than anything.

      Happy Mothers day to you too, hope it is a fantastic day for you.

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