It seems that everyone is encouraged to develop a fast pace of life. It’s how the western model of the world is, and it seems to be spreading to all areas of the world. However, along with this unnatural life pace comes poor health, dissatisfaction, suicide, unhealthy relationships and a lot more.
Certainly big corporations become ever wealthier, but for the ordinary person, life seems to deteriorate.
Growing up in East Africa taught me to appreciate a slow pace of life. Africans are (or were) much more connected to Nature, to the Earth, to the harmony of life, than westerns are. One of the best illustrations for me, is the ferry versus the bridge.
Mtwapa ferry was a small ferry that took you across Mtwapa Creek that feeds into the Indian Ocean on the Kenya coast. The ferry could not hold more than about three cars or one lorry. The road was a reasonably quiet one, although the main connection between two coastal towns.
The ferry was people powered. A line of people pulled a chain, which propelled the ferry forward. The people doing the work did so with pleasure. They sang, they stamped their feet, they blew tunes through a conch shell. It was truly an experience. It was impossible not to be affected by this happy band of people.
If you missed the ferry, you got out of the car to enjoy the river, the vegetation, the other people waiting, the sea breeze, the warm sun. Time didn’t matter.
The ferry has now been replaced by a bridge. The journey is certainly shorter and more efficient, but now lacks a rich human experience. You could say that this was necessary as the traffic has increased with the sprawl of nearby Mombasa and the tourist industry.
A fast pace of life seems to be endemic, but I believe it holds the key to human misery. It is well known that meditation helps with all manner of illnesses. All meditation is, is time spent in thoughtless relaxation. This can be achieved by enjoying the moment, by being still around Nature, by being affected by a creative display.
Why don’t we enjoy the journey of (and the participation in) life more? For our sanity, I suggest we need to slow down.