Despite the usual traffic, you are on the fastest route possible
On a recent road trip, Google Maps became erratic. The directions made little sense. Simple, direct routes were dropped for overly complicated ones that found us turning on more and more obscure roads. We were still on the fastest route as far as Google Maps was concerned. Our arrival wasn’t delayed, but the app sacrificed common sense in an effort to save just a few minutes. It was overly optimized for speed.
In many ways, our lives are, too.
Everything around us is optimized for right now: the apps and devices we use, the way we get where we’re going, how we watch shows and acquire things, sharing and commenting online, the way news is made and reported, and, of course, how we work. If it was a competition, fast won. Slow is now out of the ordinary, uncommon. To make room for slow is to swim against the tide.
This isn’t an argument about why slow is better than fast or an anti-technology manifesto. There’s nothing inherently better about slow or wrong with fast. The slow food movement has much to teach us about the craft of making and enjoying a meal, but there’s still great value in a dinner that can be made in the brief time between a job and an evening class at the community college.
But there's much to gain from making room in our lives for being slow, to find the pace and rhythm that sustains and enriches us. How that expresses itself is unique to each of us - it might change how we approach meals or how we use technology. It might mean finding more opportunities to walk instead of drive or welcoming meandering conversation whenever the opportunity exists. It may be as simple as making each moment about just one thing.
The magic is found when we embrace slow together. When we swim alongside one another in the same direction, our capacity is multiplied and we can withstand the current.
The power isn’t in replacing fast with slow, it’s in the moments of contrast. Slow helps us see things differently, remember what we’ve forgotten, and prioritize what truly matters to us.