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July 2017

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[A Russian version of this text was published at https://bluedrag.dreamwidth.org/204240.html.]



Well, not quite a manifesto. Not really a manifesto. But still.

For a few years now I’ve been thinking about founding a new movement, maybe even a new cult, and proclaiming myself its prophet. Since the corresponding vision has not yet been manifested to me, I will wait with the cult for now, but I still want to share my thoughts.

My movement is called slow life, after the pattern of Slow Food, the movement that started in Europe as the alternative to the culture of fast food, represented of course by McDonald’s. The followers of slow food advocate for unhurried feasts with high quality expensive food, good wine and good companions. Food, treated as joy in life rather then a utilitarian source of cheap calories.

My fundamental idea is to generalize this approache for everything in life, without exception.

Some time later I learned that I was not the first, and not the second, who used the term slow life. Somebody even had a blog called The Slow Life Chronicles (now apparently defunct). When I was coming up with my system, I had no clue about all that. I am not surprised that my ideas are not original (it is rather hard to come up with truly original ideas), but they are still mine—and would benefit from being written down.

Slow Life Principles

I came up with two basic, complimentary principles.

1. The major goal of life is the life itself. Everything else (money, fame, power, family) can’t be a goal. Or, at most, it could be a very secondary goal. The life should never be “sacrificed” for something else (money, fame, power, family).

2. Every moment in life is important and valuable on its own, and we should live it deliberately and with self respect.

Slow life is about choosing quality over quantity (and cheapness), about preferring simple to complicated, mechanical to electrical, analog to digital. Slow life inevitably contradicts the technological progress, at least in its modern incarnation (progress for the sake of progress, speed for the sake of speed) and is not ashamed of it, not in the slightest.

Douglas Adams once described the word “bypass” like this:

Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash form point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all decide where the hell they wanted to be.


Slow life tells us: people at A, B and C already arrived there, and have always been—because “there” is here, regardless of where here is. No bypasses needed.

Live Deliberately

Live deliberately is the main slogan of slow life. When I was writing about slow life in Russian, I’ve stumbled at the word “deliberately”. Turns out, it doesn’t even exist in Russian! A dictionary suggested four distinct translations, all relevant in their own way.

English dictionaries typically list two meanings, for example:

1 with a definite intention, not by chance or by accident
2 in a slow careful way

Both meanings fit well here. The point is, whatever we are doing in the course of our live, however small and insignificant (coming home from work, washing dishes, raking leaves, writing a blog post), we should not try to skip all that in frustration, as mundane nonsense just distracting us from some really important things,—but rather do it all well, with feeling, with a definite intention, in a slow careful way, deliberately enjoying life here and now.

Living deliberately.

Onward

I have much more to say on the subject of slow life, but will stop here for now—in the spirit of slow life. If everything goes well, I plan to write a few more posts on slow life and in particular on its application to real life. And I would appreciate hearing your opinion, my gentle readers.

Lastly, I wanted to mention something that took me by surprise, but seems so obvious in retrospect. In the last couple of years or so, I’ve been writing about slow life (in Russian) and pitching the idea to a few friends. Not surprisingly, there were no converts. People who lived their life slowly continued doing that; those who didn’t continued doing that, too.

What did happen, though, was that people accepted slow life as a term, as a word. They would point to something and say “this is real slow life”, or they would say about someone that he “doesn’t accept slow life”.

That alone makes me feel accomplished. Words have magical power (if I didn’t believe that, I obviously would not waste my time writing here).

Finding the right word is a big step.

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