This issue marks the beginning of Slowly Together. We’re exploring what it means to live slow in our relentlessly fast world. How do we find a sustainable pace in our day-to-day lives? How do we make time for what truly matters to us? How do we embrace the power and wonder of technology without finding ourselves pulled in by its undertow? Is there room for the timeless when everything is realtime?
Uncommon was slow from the start—the first community experience was exchanging postcards in the mail! When a member visits our online home, a small stack of delightful cards awaits that’s only refreshed once a day. The site closes for 24 hours each week. It’s sort of the opposite of the realtime social networks that fill our days.
But there’s nothing inherently better about slow or wrong with fast. When you want to tell a friend about a change in dinner plans, you don’t look for a slow messaging app. However, when you want to tell the same friend how much they mean to you, a letter does have a certain appeal. 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.
Despite the usual traffic, you are on the fastest route possible
On a recent road trip, Google Maps became increasingly 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, unusual, uncommon. To make room for slow is to swim against the tide.
Slowly Together isn’t an argument about why slow is better than fast or an anti-technology manifesto. Nor is it a paean to minimalism. It doesn’t presume that everyone has the flexibility and income to make certain choices.
It simply asks us to make 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 matters deeply.
It’s a conversation worth having, and I can’t think of a more wonderful group of people to have it with. I can’t wait to dive in.
On the front porch
On Uncommon’s front porch, we recently debuted Works in Progress, where members share what they’re currently creating, building, and dreaming up, from a birthday cake to a video documentary series. We’ve also welcomed new members, shared many favorite things, replied to a fresh batch of prompts, and this month, introduced our first photo prompt in honor of October. If you’re not a member yet, we’d love for you to join us. Meet your neighbors and grab a chair on the front porch. You even get to bring a friend along for free 😄
We hope you enjoyed the first edition of Slowly Together. Next month, we’ll explore what it means to be present in the moment.
If you’d like to receive the next edition in your inbox, subscribe below. We can’t wait to meet you.