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Calm Amidst the Storm

photo by: david goehring (via flickr creative commons)

photo by: david goehring (via flickr creative commons)

I came across a compilation yesterday called “The Pace of Modern Life.”  It includes excerpts from articles published between 1871-1915 lamenting feelings of continual acceleration, fears about the deterioration of play, and concerns about the dying art of conversation/long-form thought.  Sound familiar?

Swap “tweet” for “letter” in a few of these excerpts and they could have been written today.  We’re fretting about our 240-character “essays” and steady stream of photos in the same way people 100 years ago worried that the efficiency of the post was reducing the value of a thoughtful letter.  This raises the question — is this a technology issue, or simply one of the complicated realities of the human condition?  Is it about a universal truth that human beings struggle to slow down when the world around us seems to be speeding up?

There’s a lot of talk about slowing down these days (at least in the bubble we call Silicon Valley), and there are lots of questions about whether we’re heading down a road where people think in snapshots, not paragraphs and our memories live in the cloud, not in our hearts.  My answer: we need to look at our own lives, our own routines, our own values, and our own priorities in order to find the balance between the gifts technology gives us and the real-life reflection and connection we need as humans.  Each of our needs…and each of our answers will be different.  But I’d bet that slowing down might actually help most of us speed up in the grand scheme of things.

Here are a few simple ways I’m trying to find this harmony (TRYING is the operative word here):

  • Unplugged mornings (running/writing/reading in the mornings instead of typing)
  • Email “blocks” (checking email at set intervals versus constantly)
  • Walking meetings (no urge to check email/phone during the meeting if it’s not available)
  • Tech-free dates (leaving my phone in the car when I’m out with my husband)
  • “Day in review” talks with the kids (lie in bed with the kids at night at talk about their days)

What about you?  Is it hard for you to slow down amidst a fast world outside?  What helps you slow down during the day or week?

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Climbing and surfing with friends are my two favorite drugs for slowing down. It’s hard to think about too much else when you’re in the water or on a cliff 🙂 Unfortunately they’re impossible during the week and much harder in London. Now I find projects that I can let myself be absorbed in for an hour or so at a time like fixing my bike or cooking something new. A set space where all I need are my hands and some tools maybe.

    June 21, 2013
    • Yes, climbing and surfing are both amazing ways to slow down. Glad you’re finding some substitutes in the urban jungle. Thanks for the comment, Josh!

      June 21, 2013

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