Of late, there seems to have been an abundance of talk about the “slow” movement. From “slow fashion” to “slow food” and recently I came across an article on the “slow home movement” . In all instances, the emphasis is on being thoughtful about what we are wearing, consuming and living in. It is about being aware of the materials and ingredients that that go into the products we consume and the effect that have not only on individuals but the larger environment too. It isn’t necessarily about consuming less but consuming wisely, thinking about need vs. want, quality, quantity and wastage, for example.
But is this a new phenomenon? Is the 21st Century really that different from previous generations, each of whom were confronted by changes in society that forced them to live differently than they had before.
I am often reminded of the poem “Leisure” by Welsh poet, W.H. Davies, published in 1911. Published at the start of the 20th century, the sentiments couldn’t be more relevant today. While it is important to make each generation aware of the dangers of mass consumption, it is equally important to remember that our ancestors have often trod the same path and perhaps what is at the core of the “slow” movement is our ability (or lack thereof) to slow down, listen and learn to those in the present and past.
WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.