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17 November 2011

In Praise Of Slow by Carl Honoré

Time. One of life's most precious assets. Yet, the art of savouring time is all but lost.

Today life is performed at a hectic pace. Every activity is planned, scheduled, prioritised. We're encouraged to mature quickly, attain academic brilliance, toil for long hours, and do something with every minute of our free time.

The result is we constantly sit in life's fast lane, as life goes by in a blur. No time to explore, reflect, imagine, dream or even breathe. Seldom is the question asked, "In the final reckoning what difference will this very urgent, very important diary entry make?".

Slow mediums are on the decline. Reading books, listening to the radio, hearing complete albums, watching nature and a whole host of art and craft endeavours have been jilted. Their place taken by smartphones, games machines, YouTube videos, bite-sized TV programmes, individual music downloads and anything that might provide instant stimulation and gratification.

Carl's book aims to be an antidote to this time-sickness. Within its pages are many thought provoking examples of how to take a more leisurely approach to living. There's the highly active Slow Food movement with their magazines, events and workshops. The Dutch inspired Woonerf-style ('living street') residential traffic management schemes. Japanese schools where schedules and subjects are set by the students, who never sit an exam. Even a whole chapter on the joys of Tantric sex.

Slow isn't easy. It takes courage and deep breaths to accomplish the necessary behavioural changes, and allow everything to happen at its own natural speed. But, as this book ably demonstrates, it's worth it. Slow is beautiful. Be sure you take the time to read it.

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