Busyness in life only means you are more distracted. Instead, slowing down may help you focus on living the good life you always wanted to
by Manjulaa Shirodkar
I know a very dear, middle-aged friend who often says, “I am a man in a tearing hurry. I have only some more working years left before my active working time is over. The energies will be less, the body won’t allow me as much strain. There is so much to be done and hardly any time left…” etc etc… and each time I am very tempted to ask him, “Where are you headed? Where are you going? For what are you getting late?”
But I refrain because I know that there are no answers here. In fact, in the mad mad rush called life, who has time to sit down and smell the flowers – as is often said. Few would insist on an afternoon siesta (no matter how tempting) like our friends living in Assam, Banaras in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat or even West Bengal do. It is customary for businessmen to shut shop for at least two hours post lunch to just sit and relax and take a snooze. Business can wait. But not everyone thinks and works at this pace.
Who takes time to think that our journey is the destination? Most people end up living their lives chasing a destination which just doesn’t seem to arrive. You may reach some set goals but largely, the destination seems elusive. And very few find the time to enjoy this journey called life or even sing that beautiful song Laahe Laahe chalenge, laahe laahe (Laahe being the word for ‘slow’ in Assamese. Translation: Slowly, we will walk… slowly ) from the children’s film Rhino by Shashank Shekhar.
Ever paid attention to a sapling grow into a full fledged tree? It takes its own sweet time to reach its full height, its flowers to bloom when in season, its leaves shed when its time and grow afresh when it’s the right time. The tree doesn’t seem to be in a rush to grow faster than its neighbour or another plant! Nor is it trying to grow apples if it’s a mango tree!
And yet, when fully grown, can anyone ignore its majestic form and beauty? Can anyone deny the lush shade it provides, the tasty fruit it gives, the usefulness it has when in full glory, the very air it helps us breathe? And all because it took its time to reach where it was meant to, by putting down its roots nice and firm. By doing what it knows best, to simply grow As Is.
Sure, we are more evolved than the trees and a lot many may find the analogy laughable but think about it.
Where is this crazy run to come first in a rat race, where you don’t even know most rats, taking you? Instead, why not explore the joy of slowing down?
How about doing things one at a time, single-tasking instead of multi-tasking and still achieving results? Probably better results!
Its proven by several studies in psychology that when you slow down and become more aware and live in the moment you actually become more productive. Since one is more conscious of every thing around, one learns to dismiss the distractions from one’s mind. The tunnel vision is replaced by a bigger and more encompassing viewpoint.
Several authors, spiritual masters, psychologists and most successful of entrepreneurs have often stressed upon the importance of slowing down, not because running or chasing an aim is not important but because one can achieve the same result by calming down and focusing on one thing at a time.
But its easier said than done, especially when you are hard-wired to gadgets, where being attached to a hectic lifestyle and completing all the chores seems to be the only way forward. Its not easy to slow down and enjoy the moment when your life is filled with so much activity that busyness is the only good and sound go to option. Where productivity takes a backseat because being over worked is the style.
Eckhart Tolle in his best selling work The Power of Now states: “Ask yourself: Is there joy, ease and lightness in what I am doing? If not is, then time is covering up the present moment and life is perceived as a burden or a struggle.
“If there is no joy, ease or lightness in what you are doing, it does not necessarily mean that you need to change what you are doing. It may be sufficient to change the how. ‘How’ is always more important than ‘what.’ See if you can give much more attention to the doing than the result that you want to achieve through it. … As soon as you honour the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve and life begins to flow with joy and ease.”
If this sounds too esoteric, take a moment and read the above words again… that is the whole purpose of this piece. To drive home the point that slowing down or taking that afternoon siesta or paying attention to your inner child and his exuberance will not take away anything from your life. It will only add quality to your moments.
And adding that quality to your moments “is more important than getting things done,” like Richard Carlson in his book Slowing Down to the Speed of Life says. So go ahead, slow down and breathe. It will do you no harm, only keep you more alive. Which is the aim of life anyway.
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Manjulaa Shirodkar (nee Negi) is an established film critic and author, having worked in leading national publications. She is also a Film Selection Committee member for various film festivals.