The moment I knew May 7 was the international day of slowness, I rushed into writing this post.
Praising slowness may be interesting because it is provocative: How can being slow become something to be proud of in a world that’s constantly rushing and changing at a frenetic space? The people who launched this post want to draw attention to the beauty of taking the right time, resist the frenzy, slow down.
This gave rise to funny and weird ideas, such as that of fining pedestrians who are in too much of a harry.
And yet, slowness, in itself, is not a value but rather a flaw, a shortcoming. The difficulty of not being able to stay within the natural time required for doing things. In this perspective, slowness is opposed to haste, impatience, to the impossibility of “staying still” while, on the contrary, feeling the urge of “doing”. These two opposite terms are two sides of the same coin.
If we conceive haste and slowness, speed and rest, re-activity and reflection as personal skills, I start thinking that being faster or slower in doing things might be a value when it is the sign of a passage, a transition, a “cure” to change one’s pace, to try a new one, to learn. In this perspective, slowness and speed are territories to be explored, not destinations to be reached.
If I broaden my vision, I realize that, in nature, nothing is fast and nothing is slow. Everything proceeds within a specific, ecologic timing, that is consistent with the flow of things. We interpret events, we give them a meaning and label them with words that might sound empty.
I then think of Conor McGregor, a professional martial artist, who won the UFC featherweight world championship beating the –until then– undefeated champion José Aldo in less than 15 seconds. Interviewed immediately after the verdict, McGregor said:
He’s powerful, and he’s fast. But precision beats power, and timing beats speed
Timing beats speed and slowness too. Timing is the ability of changing one’s speed according to the needs, context, requests and desires.
In companies people seldom talk about slowness but they talk too often about speed. Timing requires both, slowness and speed at the same time. It requires sudden jerks as well as care and attention to details, quantity together with quality, strength as well as delicacy.
This is why the day of slowness may be a provocation useful to ask oneself: “Am I rushing for any specific reason? Am I giving the things I do the right time? Am I proceeding at the right pace?”
At the same time, this is why I am not going to celebrate, allowing my day the time it requires even at the cost of getting fined!