Q: YOU MUST HAVE ANSWERED THIS QUESTION HUNDREDS OF TIMES, BUT WHAT FIRST INSPIRED YOU TO SLOW DOWN?
A personal wake-up call. When I caught myself admiring a book of one-minute bedtime stories (Snow White in 60 seconds!), I suddenly realised I was racing through my life instead of living it.
Q: ‘SLOW’ HAS MANY CONNOTATIONS, NOT ALL OF THEM POSITIVE. WHAT DOES IT REALLY MEAN TO YOU?
I’m not an extremist of slowness. I love speed. But faster is not always better. Being Slow means doing everything at the correct speed: quickly, slowly or whatever pace works best. Slow means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity in everything from work and sex to food and parenting.
Q: WHAT DO YOU SEE AS ITS MAIN BENEFITS?
By slowing down we start living every moment fully. That means taking more pleasure from everything we do. We become more creative and efficient. We eat better, boost our energy and reinvigorate our health. We build stronger relationships. Slowing down also brings an inner calm and gives us the time and space to reflect deeply. That means we can start seeing that everything and everyone is connected.
Q: ARE THERE ANY DOWNSIDES?
You have to say ‘no’ to some things. But the gains you enjoy more than make up for that sacrifice.
Q: WE’RE ALL BUSY; HOW CAN WE MAKE SPACE FOR SLOW IN OUR FAST-PACED, TECHNOLOGY-RICH LIFESTYLES?
When it comes to taming the technology, use the OFF button. And turn off all notifications. Beyond the tech: Do less. Buy less. Consume less. Drive less. Walk more. Listen more. Sleep more. Stop multi-tasking and do one thing at a time. Embed slow moments and rituals into your schedule. Embrace your inner tortoise!
Q: DO YOU SEE THINGS DIFFERENTLY NOW COMPARED WITH WHEN YOU WROTE IN PRAISE OF SLOW?
Not really. Fear remains the biggest obstacle to slowing down. Thanks to the powerful taboo against slowness, even just thinking about slowing down makes us feel afraid, guilty or ashamed. Add to that the fear of being alone with our thoughts and the fear of missing out. Speed is often a way to escape that fear. Instead of facing up to what is missing in our lives, we just make ourselves faster and busier.
Q: DO YOU FIND THAT PEOPLE ARE MORE READILY GETTING IN TUNE WITH SLOW TODAY OR IT IS HARDER TO CUT THROUGH THE NOISE?
On one hand, it is harder with all the tempting distractions of the new technology. On the other hand, if you use the tech wisely it can help you to use your time better – in other words, it can help you slow down.
Q: AND, FINALLY, HOW DO YOU APPLY THE SLOW PHILOSOPHY TO YOUR TRAVELS?
By doing fewer things but giving those things the time and attention they deserve. And by hanging out with locals wherever possible. My three tips for Slow Travel are:
1. Get lost at least once by walking around without a map or GPS.
2. Get a haircut: barbers and hair salons are wonderful places to plug straight into the local community.
3. Start sketching: nothing forces to you slow down and savour the fine grain and texture of a place more than trying to draw it.