Slow Living in the time of Coronavirus
Here in Perth, we’re luckier than most. Our remoteness gives us an advantage over controlling the pandemic compared to other major cities around the world. After a few short weeks of life grinding to a standstill, we’re gradually shifting gears up again, to resume our new normal way of life.
I feel a sense of mourning about the pace picking up again. Of course, for many, it’s been a heartbreaking time, and especially for our friends overseas who are still in lockdown. I don’t want to discount the loss – of livelihoods and life. It’s a situation we all wish wasn’t thrust upon us, but it was, and all we can do is make the most of it.
We find ourselves in a unique position where the world has quieted around us. There are gifts to be found in the collective experience of slowing down. For a few weeks, we were given a taste of what a slower life can be like. Not having to juggle appointments and invitations and rushing from one place to the next.
During lockdown at my house, mornings were more gentle, we had time to make breakfast like it was Sunday every day. Evenings were less exhausting, without after school activities we made time for board games and books. I found myself having richer and deeper experiences. Life felt less fractured into many pieces and I could sink into one thing at a time. Days were still full and not necessarily easier, but they were slower and more intentional.
To live the life we really want, we have to pause long enough to reflect on it. For most of us, the status quo is busy. After getting through the daily grind there’s no headspace left for reflection. We tumble into bed at the end of the day weary from all our commitments and obligations.
When society as we know it stops, we are gifted the simplicity that we long for in the haze of modern busyness. Being able to choose what we give our attention to. Immersing ourselves in richer experiences, without the pressure of having somewhere else to be. Having some time to be still, when we aren’t pulled in many directions by other people’s priorities, we have the chance to think about what is really important to us. To figure out what our values are and what makes us truly happy. That’s the gift of living slowly, it’s living with a clear idea of what makes us feel whole and content. When we know what makes us feel fulfilled, we can focus our energy on it, and our lives won’t be so easily filled up with everything else.
Going forwards, there’s a temptation to get straight back to how things were. Before we jump into autopilot, let’s take a moment to pause a little longer. To think carefully about what we let into our lives and our schedules. Ask ourselves, is the lifestyle we were living before the one that serves us best? Are there things we can say no to? Things we can let go of? When I had a breakdown a few years ago, my instinct was to get better as fast as possible and get back to ‘normal’. In my healing process I realised that my normal was flawed: trying to get to how I was functioning before wasn’t what I needed at all. I couldn’t go back to being so busy. What I really needed was less. By pairing back on the non-essentials, I could start to heal, and eventually achieve a sense of inner calm.
Perhaps in future years, we can look back with a sense of gratitude for being forced to slow down. Having a break from ‘real-life’ and having the rare opportunity to reassess our lives and figure out what really matters. To use what we've found and cultivate a life we love.