“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” Alan Watts
For more than two decades, I have been a proponent of ‘slow living’ and more recently, a fan of Brooke McAlary. Having been born in Toronto, and later a commuter in the corporate world, speed is in my DNA.
So, moving to Vancouver Island, and in particular Sidney, was like putting on the brakes for meandering wildlife to make its way across the road. It required an almost immediate adjustment. In the early days, I will admit to being frustrated in the grocery store while neighbours and staff alike, asked after our health and happiness, but it didn’t take long to realize that this was about being in community and a beautiful way of life. When you live and work in a fast-paced environment, you adapt or die, it’s almost impossible to swim against the current. And while I tried for a few years before abandoning a life out east altogether, it was a completely different situation having arrived on the west coast. The waves were lapping instead of crashing, life was moving at a much gentler pace and time was not the enemy. And, just so there is no confusion, I am not talking boring, I am talking slow. And while it may not be for everyone, I do think that the pandemic has forced us collectively as a planet, to slow down, and at times to stop, which has given many the pause and permission they required.
Now, and for the past 25 years, we enjoy a much more simple, tranquil, and slow life; we are the better for it, no question. Don’t get me wrong, my favourite holiday destinations are still cities, and I will always be a city girl at heart, but that doesn’t mean that our needs don’t change and that we can’t find another way to live, especially if it contributes to us living our best life. What I want now, is even more time, to stroll, to wander, to think, to create and to simply be. I want to slow it all down, wash my dishes by hand, read a book for more than a few chapters, garden for hours, and swim for days. And I want to continue to do one thing at a time, with intention, and to do it well. I want to walk to a slower beating drum.
Building a house has been the latest lesson in ‘slow’ although some might suggest it’s been more a lesson in ‘delay’. It has afforded us time to make thoughtful decisions, without distraction and without deadline pressures. Often, I find, that because we have an almost too full ‘to do’ list, we feel required to also do it at lightening speed. For me, this is more a function of the list being too long rather than there not being enough time. So rather than wish for more hours, and more haste, I wish for fewer things to accomplish, and more time to contemplate; why I’m doing them, what’s the best way to get them done, and the most important question, does it actually need doing?
For those who are wondering, I am not ‘retired’, in fact I don’t really subscribe to that all or nothing notion. I am still working, albeit less, and contributing, accomplishing, adventuring, volunteering, and living life to the fullest. All the while, I continue to adjust to our new rural environment, recognizing what’s different, accepting the limitations and celebrating the opportunities. I am adjusting my sails to changing winds and looking forward to a time of living slowly, but Shirley.