It seems many of us are taking time for contemplation and looking inward – or we wish to. The turning of the year could have much to do with this, as we use the marker of time to take stock, begin anew, and resolve to create more of the things we desire in life. It’s also winter in the Northern Hemisphere, a traditional time for many to embrace stillness and rest in a way that mirrors nature. And, if that weren’t enough, it’s the end of the holiday season, which can also signal a return to routine and calm.
But there’s also something else at work.
Pico Iyer tells us, in his New York Times piece The Joy of Quiet, that people are so desperate to get away from the din of information and chaotic lives that the future of travel “lies in ‘black-hole resorts,” which charge high prices precisely because they are internet- and television-free.
In barely one generation we’ve moved from exulting in the time-saving devices that have so expanded our lives to trying to get away from them — often in order to make more time. The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug. Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight.
Iyer notes that “the urgency of slowing down is nothing new”, but perhaps these latest trends point to the fact that, while the desire to slow down is not new, the urgency and the need to do so has increased. The frenzy of modern life and 24/7 communications has stretched many to the limit, and families and others are seeking techniques – be they “black hole resorts”, electronic-free days, or turning down team sports and birthday party invitations – to regain a sense of sanity, necessary down-time and quiet.
The good news is that you needn’t completely check out of life and into an expensive resort or an ascetic ashram.
Make a pledge to slow down as a family by turning off the electronics for one or more evenings a week and playing cards or classic board games.
Do a family craft or cooking project:
- Make placemats from fall leaves, pressed flowers or other found objects.
- Make apple butter.
- Make Solstice cupcakes.
Whatever you do, try to bring your whole mind to the endeavor. Enjoy your family and time.
Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman
Slow Family Online:
New York Times: