The Pleasures Of Slow

My world seems to move faster every day, I know they say that time passes more quickly as you get older but the days are flying past me. Because we live in a constantly connected world with fast moving newsfeeds flashing before our eyes, the sensation of time flying increases on a daily basis. I cannot even begin to contemplate how the advent of wearable technology such as Google Glass is going to impact on us.

I suspect the feeling of ‘so much to do, so little time to do it’ is going to oppress us more as we become more tied into the constant stream of updates. Everything seems to be geared to speeding up every part of our lives, so much so that I wonder are we all losing the ability to take our time, to live in the moment, to be slow and to savour moments of time.

It was a conversation about Coffee that set me off on this train of thought. Lots of my friends have recently been buying Nespresso type coffee machines, where you pop in a pod and out pops a cup of coffee. I have resolutely turned my face against them. I believed the reason was that I don’t much like the coffee they produce – to me the the taste of the coffee is always tainted by the pod material, leaving me with a horrid aftertaste. I had always thought this was the main reason but then it dawned on me that it wasn’t.

I make my coffee using a domestic sized Gaggia so making my daily cup of coffee has become a ritual. The coffee is always just how I like it and much of the reason is the ritual that precedes the first sip. It takes time, filling up the machine with water, the first hot water going into the (giant) cup to warm it. Next comes the preparation of the milk, increase the heat setting for steam, pouring the milk into the special jug I always use for steaming it. The hiss and spit of the steam as it bubbles through the milk, the gentle tap of the jug on the worktop to assist the foam in coming to the top. Turning down the heat, fill the coffee basket with coffee, carefully stored in the freezer to keep it at its best. The clunk as the coffee basket is locked into position, emptying the water from the warmed mug, pushing the button for the hot water. A few seconds later the delicious smell of coffee bursts around you as it drips through into the cup, then pouring in the steamed milk and finally the much anticipated coffee is ready.

CoffeeI rarely take my coffee to my desk, it is far to precious. I enjoy every mouthful because it has take time to prepare and in taking that time I have slowed right down. I have slowed down to the point where I can really appreciate my drink. As I sit, sipping my perfect coffee, my mind is settled – it has had time to step off the Merry-Go-Round. I smell the coffee, I taste the coffee, I enjoy every moment, I don’t think about anything else. My mind flies free, unravelling the knots that have developed through the morning. When my cup is finally empty, I am restored and recharged. All the things chasing round in my head have magically ordered themselves. Clear thinking is easy and I achieve far more.

There are those who think I am crazy for performing this time consuming ritual, so be it. This isn’t about your choice of coffee machine, it’s about taking time, about slowing down, about not doing everything at the fastest pace possible, about giving our hard pressed minds a space to recover in our fast paced days. It is about taking a moment to do something slowly, appreciating exactly what you are doing for itself, a skill we are rapidly losing.

Our lives have become so full that even our leisure time is a race to see things, do things, complete the bucket list, to grab every experience possible as fast as possible. Time is the only finite thing in our lives yet we race to spend it at an ever increasing rate. Allow some of it to pass slowly, focus on the present, allow anticipation to build rather than rushing headlong into everything, you will enjoy it far more and the quality of your life will improve with so many benefits. All those rushed experiences would mean so much more if you gave yourself time to appreciate them. Small slow rituals give us something to focus on, a process that almost becomes a moving meditation giving us back the ability to live in the moment we are experiencing.

Feed your spirit with time, savour every moment and enjoy the pleasures of slow.

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