Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 3rd, 2010 – Slow Living

December 3rd, 2010 – Slow Living
In quest for simple living and always complaining about lack of time, I came across the concept of what Italians call for “Good Living”. Towns in Tuscany like Greve and Levanto have rescued the lifestyle of their ancestors to have life that is worth living. An interviewee used the term “slow”, which reminds me of “slow food” movement started in Italy. Time to do each thing: “eat when you are eating”, “drinking when you are drinking”, that’s the fundamental philosophy of Zen Buddhism: to be present.
I would say that there is a natural vocation to have a wonderful slow life in Cinque Terre or any small village by the Ligurian Sea. Old architecture, timeless culture, unfailing beauty. How different is the challenge to transfer such a concept to my life today. I believe that lack of culture, that means, lack of history - nacional, local and personal – may cause a sensation of rootlessness. Like people without memory. How freighful they become.
We, that search for the secret of a happy life in simple living, may be at loss when we have no roots, whether we are immigrants to the place or our family values were only lightly impressed on us. When we are willing to change values according to each new situation. It is necessary a deep belief that life stripped of everything else that the modern world offer us is the only way of living – not of happiness, though – but of living. If life had not giving us option, would be happier? No, I don’t believe so. But, believing that what life had offered us was the best that could happen to us, and besides that, we would be unhappy.
To become slow is to repel everything else, rather than deny it. It is to turn back, to scorn the notion of efficiency, that “time is money”. It is to comform to the loss of so many things that we could experience (or have) just if we did it faster.
I heard on a radio program once that we need to leave margins in our lives. Just like money we save for emergency. We save time for something else. Instead of driving in 10 minutes, alow 15 minutes instead.
My mind still works like in big cities. I just want to stuff my time with one more thing. I want to have, have, have, accumulate experiences, knowledge, culture, sensation. This was an impediment to make money, career, or keep a marriage, all of them require long term investiment.
My slow living can, perhaps, start with making my vegetable patch smaller. I wouldn’t have surplus, but I needn’t have to sell any. Selling produce means harvesting, selecting, packaging, delivering, and receiving payment. At the end of one harvest season, I see that I sold my produce very cheap and also I failed to collect all the money. Smaller garden means less time spent in taking care of it. I could also choose crops that require less intensive work. As my mind works toward simplifying, I may start going on the opposite direction, of soon, wanting to buy ready made food to save time. Of course I am not going to get to this point. But I thought it was so nice to furnish people with nice, fresh and cheap produce. But the principle of organic gardening is also social justice. It was not been just for me not to have profit in my business.
Today I had two ladies coming to visit my garden and taking home a trunkful of produce. I only managed to charge for lemons. They took eggplants, tomatoes, herbs, lychee, and even mulching material. All for free.
If it didn’t rain tomorrow, I am going to strip my garden.
Slow living is also an internal set up, a state of mind of each person. I am not naturally slow, or at least, I believe so. I do everything very quickly.
What is slow living anyway?
For things to be slow and I feel OK about it, I will need to change the value I atribute to time. Time is very expensive for me. I am 47, so close to 50. I am shocked just to think about it. What I did after my teenage years? I collected experiences only on abstract, personal way. All I have is memory that seems rather unstructured. That’s why I like to write. All my treasure is inside my mind e decoded into written words (in a non-native language!)
My daughter drives me crazy because she loves to collect what is garbage and clutter to me. I wanted to teach her to take only things that she can store in her mind, heart, and body. Things that she can take with her whatever she goes, and she would never think that she is traveling poor.
Slow living on a farm is going too fast: eggplants that were at peak a few days ago are now yielding imperfect fruits, Swiss chard has been infested with bugs, green onions are becoming pale and parsley yellow. Weeds grow so fast have taken over a half patch. Above all, I realize that my daughter is growing up so fast. She is a pre-teen with all the symptoms of a teen: lazy, critical, rebel. I want to cry. She will be flying alone to America in 10 days. Did I have enough time to impress my values onto her? She complains that I don’t have time for her, to play with her. I tell her that I am not a child that can run in the orchard after her. That I am a mother, with the obligations of a mother. But I will have to find time to play with her. Time goes so fast, even when we choose a slow living.

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