The most striking contrast between our lives in Austin and Mexico boils down to a single variable: the pace at which we live. We have slowed our day-to-day to half or even a third the speed that we had been living. What does it feel like? A bit like dropping 100 pounds. Like we’ve stepped off the hamster wheel. Like we’ve discovered a secret portal into the kind of existence we always knew was possible but which had always seemed just out of reach. It feels so much more natural.
When I talk to my friends back home, particularly those with families, I hear the same thing from everyone, “We’re good, just crazy busy,” followed by accounts of schedules and obligations that give me flashbacks and make me all the more grateful for my new found knowledge: being busy does not make for a happier or more fulfilled life. Likewise, it does not provide us with an adequate sense of identity or purpose, though it seems to be the new common denominator of the whole country.
Oddly enough, as a culture, we aren’t busier because we have to be. Your family will no longer starve to death if you don’t get the crop in before the freeze. It’s not likely that you have to build that new fence this weekend in order to defend your food source from wolves. You’re not exactly hurrying to Target to trade hides for a new ax in time to chop your winter’s cord. On the contrary, we are more likely busy with nonessential activities that we’ve grown to believe are essential.
So, are these things true? Am I any better a person, wife, mother, neighbor or friend because my agenda is full? Will I find the balance I seek by adding more things or experiences to my days? Our year in Mexico has proven the exact opposite to be the case for our family. We are more content, less stressed, and tighter as a family. We cook more, consume less and share the household chores. Friends stop by every day and no one is inconvenienced. We take our time doing whatever it is that needs to be done for the day.
I don’t know the ins and outs of your daily life. I just know the way we used to live. It was CRAZY. Clearly, moving to Mexico is not the answer to everyone’s hectic schedule, and we’re going to have to work hard to keep this balance whenever we move back to the states, but I can tell you this with absolute certainty: life is worth slowing down for. There’s a sweetness that we miss when we live it too fast. There’s a inexplicable contentment to be gained by living closer to the speed humans have lived for millions of years.
What’s the worst that could happen if we all slowed down? Less spending? More home-cooked meals? I think the real question is what’s going to happen if we don’t?
Fast Paced Nation Part II – How to Slow Down Despite the Busy All Around You
Well said, let’s all be intentional about this. Count me in!
Like I tell my friends, it doesn’t take magic to get off the wheel, you just have to know there is an off of the wheel to get to.
Wonderful blog, keep up the good work.
So true, captain. Many thanks to you, in particular, my friend.
What a refreshing post. I was literally chopping wood in my backyard yesterday and realized I had never done this before. I was so happy to provide heat to my home through my own work and from the discarded branches I’ve been saving.
Our phones, computers and instant message lifestyle have really drained the beauty of life from our culture. I go outside every night and get frustrated when my phone dies. Why don’t I just absorb the beauty around me? I am a victim of my culture I suppose. I want to just go back to the Mediterranean and live that lifestyle.
Keep up the great work. I will send people your way.
I hear you, my friend. We are all products of this oh-so-new paradigm. Thanks for your encouragement, and I welcome your referrals!
Great post. It really is amazing how many things we feel we need to get done and so many of them unimportant!
I think that, at times, we need to give ourselves permission to slow down. I know that there is an inherent guilt when I find myself not “doing” something. And then, I realize that I can just BE with my kids. It’s allowed. We’re all better off for it, too. On the days when the laundry remains piled on my couch waiting to be folded and there are dishes in the sink; but the girls, Hudson, and I have sun on our noses and shoulders and the smell of outside is permeating our clothes, we are a much more peaceful and happy bunch. Thanks for the post and the reminder that it’s not just a suggestion but a need for people to sloooow down.
I’ve struggled with this one for many years. Why is it that we grow up believing living equals “doing” instead of “being”?
I like this list especially #7. and #3 is very true.
I appreciate it, Nate. I know #7 is particularly true for me, too.
I love your blog Beth. It helps me stop and take a breath. Thank you for sharing your life with us!
Thank you, Margaret!
Good job, Beth!! Always enjoy your wisdom. Love you
Thanks, Mema! I love you, too and owe you a phone call!
Sure glad I called her, just two days before she passed on. Stop everything and call someone you love and haven’t talked to in a while!
Let me know what Chapas is lke will you?
So good to hear from you, Christine! We LOVE Chiapas. You would really like San Cristobal. Let’s email soon, and congratulations!! I miss GB so much, just like everyone else who isn’t pregnant!
Hola Beth, i live in México city and reading through your posts made me remember the time i lived in Vancouver Canadá: coming from a big city Vancouver felt like living in the countryside. I, like you, learned to slow down and to appreciate new ways to socialize and enjoy nature and homemade stuff, and of course to value what I had back home. Now that i am back i’ve been trying not to fall again into the “I am busy therefore I am important”, but it is hard having so much influence from the north.
Really love your thoughts expressed here. The question is how does one live at that more ideal & satisfying slower pace, eschewing the busy-factor when our culture/society simply does not support it or even allow it??!! It truly seems impossible to step off the hamster wheel even when one desires to do so.
Emily – That IS the question!! The answer is complex (not that I have a full grasp on it either) but here’s a start…https://revolutionfromhome.com/2012/11/12-tools-for-changing-the-world-that-you-might-already-have-at-home/
[…] Fast-Paced Nation: Part I – What’s the Big Hurry, Anyway? […]