Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Please, close your eyes...

The New Culture of Slowness

You're busy. I know.

Well guess what: I'm busy, too! We're all busy — too busy to live in the moment, too busy to consider anything other than what's now, what's next, and how to get there as quickly as humanly possible.

That's why we get books like this...


...headlines like this...

...and even ads like this (unskippable, so even the busiest among us gets the point!)

But is this culture of busyness truly what we want?

Is it what anyone wants?

This summer, at the SummerWorks performance festival in Toronto, I got my first real taste of slowness: the culture of slowing down, breathing in the present, and being at peace with... well, nothing.

Meryem Alaoui's (@meryemalaoui) live art performance called "Sand Body" was at once sensory, while also anti-sensory. Amid a slew of productions bent on adding more (and more, and more!) to the live theatre experience (think audience voting, multimedia projections, and 3-D dancing skeletons... uh huh!), Sand Body was a stripped down exercise in patience and focus. Pun intended!

Audiences were asked to surround the performance area (in this case, the busy Factory Theatre lobby) and stay focused during the one-hour performance. While a minimalist, disembodied voice asked us to "Please, close your eyes", Meryem dressed down, moved slowly through the sand, and sometimes did nothing at all, all while crowds moved into and around the space, pulling on our attention with constant distractions.

Are you focused enough? In the moment? Patient?

Here's an excerpt from the Sand Body introduction:
In the future, will it be possible to slow down time, to live at a slower pace, or are we always going faster? 
We speed up time or slow it down. It has no speed. That's why the future can be hopeful. It never arrives. It's like the horizon. 
Would it not be ideal if we could move away from this constant progress towards the future? Away from productivity? Does this have anything to do with speed? 
Sometimes observing, listening, sensing is enough. It can be necessary even. 
...and sometimes waiting... patiently... 
Please. Close your eyes.

And, if you're patient enough, here's a clip of the performance:

Meryem isn't the only one that gets it. Corona has, for a while now:

Some workplaces are starting to get it...

...even schools are getting it, too:

Do YOU get it? Do your clients get it?

Take a moment to think about it.

But first: please, close your eyes...