Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow

Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow. Oh, the rhythm of the tango.

If we dance through life then the tango is my dance. What’s yours? Waltz? Foxtrot? Tango? Maybe a bit of line dancing – why not?

Even while I’m a person who’s happy to go from sound asleep for 10 hours to massive, intense, multi-tasking action to ‘make up’ for my love of sleep, I’m feeling a pull towards a slow waltz. Yes, I think I’m gonna take the slow road, even while as the picture above shows, that’s a topsy-turvy, new perspective for me.

I don’t think I’m alone in noticing a deep, quiet yearning for a slower pace.

So I’m now evaluating how I dance through life on an every day level. One step at a time.

Time. Well let’s forget about that. Let’s consider for a moment perception. Perception of how we move in the world. Do you rush? Do you walk slowly?

A lot of the pace we find ourselves setting is not just about the tasks we set ourselves each day but also, quite simply, where we live.

City dwellers always move and talk faster as a general rule than those living in rural areas. Living in the city and attempting to slow down requires a conscious swimming against the tide of, (sometimes pretty frenetic) energy that surges around you every day.

While in the countryside, surrounded by powerful manifestations of natural cycles through plants and animals, the seasons and an overall sense of a ‘slower’ pace, the full force of Mother Nature is setting your internal pedometer and mental acuity without you even realizing it. You are HUMAN after all.

So now I am noticing these differences. I’ve become aware. I’m aiming for slow-slow-slow-slow-slow —s-l-o-w and will be happy with a little quick-quick in there now and again, of course.

Even in nature a slow-grazing rabbit must be ready to run fast, a lazing, energy-saving lion to dash for a gazelle, a feather light seed to move quickly in the wind, a snail to tuck itself into its shell.

Snails. We love snails here. Having had a dry spell there have not been many about. But during lovely, saturating rain yesterday we had a snail encounter that illustrates several of the points I think I am making today.

Our bus broke down. Us passengers were off-loaded. Some were grumpy. I just don’t see the point of grumpiness about things like this. We were standing on the pavement about to walk when I realized a woman was calling a taxi.

Ever the friendly opportunist, (I’ve always lived with dogs and cats) I asked if we could split the cab with her? She was very sweet and happy to tell me in her Irish accent that it was a free ride on her employer’s account. Lovely!

As we waited in the drizzly rain my daughter excitedly drew my attention to what she had been studying – three gigantic snails in full slither all over the top of a garden wall in amongst lush green shrub.

Wow! They were beautiful. We stared and stared. They were moving pretty quick in the rain, in their natural element, out in the morning, happy and getting to it after being in their shells so long. My daughter wanted to give them something to eat.

I had a few big crumbs of bread in my bag (yes, I know that is a bit weird, but I AM a fairy story character, OK?) so my girl put the crumbs in front of one of the giant snails and he/she slithered at it and ate it while we watched, enchanted.

I am telling you this, possibly tedious, (slow?) story to illustrate how magical experiences have the space to happen in those slow moments when we are forced to wait, to look around and wonder. (Remember “the waiting place” in Dr Suess’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go“?)

While some people might say it was a nuisance to have your bus (or car) break down with a different perspective it can be a gift out-of-time, a valid excuse to not just embrace but fully indulge the slow. Even witnessing, as we did, one of the natural leaders of the slow movement – and pretty mascot of the Slow Food US / Slow Food UK – the snail.

I am loving the Slow Movement, Slow Food (follow it slowly, of course, on Twitter) and slow everything else even while I am still catching myself doing a bit of quick-quick quite often. But then snails slip into their shells very quick-quick.

So maybe snails understand the rhythm of the tango just as much as me but prefer a slow waltz generally. I guess they keep their schedules pretty open: find food, eat it, evade death, appreciate your amazing hermaphrodite-ness, enjoy slithering and making out with other snails.

There’s a lot of good stuff to learn here. I am going to stop setting myself a ridiculous number of things to do each day. I am liking this idea of taking the slow road and making a slow, mindful, energy-saving and aware mindset my default position.

You gonna make like a snail or are you enamored of the cheetah? Unlike most animals in the wild, we have a free choice (if we allow ourselves to live wild that is).

Footnote: I must add that I’ve actively practised s-l-o-w while writing this post, by putting back the delivery time on your email subscription instead of rushing to make it by 11am AND forcing myself to not check the 26 emails which arrived tantalizingly in my inbox while I was writing it. This was NOT EASY for me! But change never is, is it? Also, thanks to Bindu Wiles for her wonderful 21.5.800 project which has supported me in staying focused and centered today. What a gal is Bindu – check her out.

PS Lovely Jackie Stewart of Flowerspirit has a wonderful post about the healing effects provided by a particular flower essence on this very issue. This flower helps us, as Jackie says, ‘slow down and be present’, can you guess it’s name? I love flower essences.

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Comments (6)

  1. 09/06/2010
    wildelycreative said...

    Snail watching – a great pastime. I spent hours in the back garden in the autumn watching the snails and slugs. Other people said eeeuuuwww, I was fascinated.
    Having said that, I was also fascinated watching a bee sleep, which some might say is like watching paint dry. I never noticed the two hours passing I was that enthralled. SOME people would say that’s a bit odd, SOME people might cross the street and point and stare. But SOME people are too busy with the Quick, quick quick-quick, quick to notice the sloooooooooooooow. And that’s a whole big chunk of the world they miss out on.

    Beautiful post – now I want to see snails tango-ing!

  2. 09/06/2010
    Flora said...

    Hey! How come you manage to leave a beautifully-worded, inspiring comment on my blog when mine on your fantastic blog sound so stupid and lame?!

    I didn’t say in the post that when we were watching the snails, I gestured to the woman who’d phoned the taxi to come see the snails.

    Can you imagine the look on her face?! Yeah, that one, totally shocked (‘Snails?! Ew! Yikes! I’ve already said this weird snail woman can share my cab!’)

    Watching a bee sleeping, huh? I love you. After seeing pics from @HelpSaveBees I’m now checking (almost) every bee I see for mites, even putting my glasses on, in the hope I might save one with a water dipping.

    Meanwhile, I’ve made a makeshift bee bath of ice-cream container with twig ramp so they can dip themselves. No, really! You’re the only person I’ve told – I feel relieved – thanks for being that odd.

  3. 09/06/2010
    Jesse said...

    I’m definitely a tango. And I like a few well-placed dips to spice things up a bit.

  4. 09/06/2010
    Jen said...

    I love this! Equating the pace of life to a dance. I would love a good tango. Mine has been rather too slow for me lately. I’m in that dreaded waiting place. I don’t mind waiting, but years of it is a bit much, eh?

    I hope your 21*5*800 is going well! So far, so good for me (it is the second day, but I’m an eternal optimist!).

    Happy Wednesday,

  5. 09/06/2010
    Flora said...

    @Jesse I love how you slipped into a culinary metaphor there. I would have guessed you a Tango-er like me.

  6. 09/06/2010
    Flora said...

    @Jen Reading your “About” on your blog I admit I was envious! Your life sounds heavenly to me. I am loving the 21*5*800.

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