Sunday, July 16, 2023

From the Rat Race to Life in the Slow Lane: Finding Balance and Purpose

While cleaning more folders and files from my office and garage I came across this quote about the pace of life and the pressures we're under.

The world is too big for us, too much is going on, too many crimes, too much violence and excitement. Try as you will, you get behind in the race in spite of yourself. It's a constant strain to keep pace... and still, you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The political world is news seen rapidly, you're out of breath trying to keep pace with who's in and who's out. Everything is high pressure. Human nature can't endure much more.

Atlantic Journal June 16, 1883

* * * 

I love this quote for several reasons. First, it seems comical to me that this was written 140 years ago last month. Was the rat race so staggering even back then?

It also reminds me of how many of the same issues that our forebears struggled with are along the same lines as what we're dealing with. Crime, violence, living under pressure, the speed at which political news flips across our consciousness like tumblers on a gymnastics team.... It makes your head swim.

It also raises the question regarding how we ought to live. Of course, the more money one has the more options as well. "I can do whatever I want" only applies to those who have the means to do whatever they want. 

Over the years I've reflected on this quote many, many times. It always surprises me to think the rat race didn't begin in the 1980s but was pushing and shoving people a full century earlier. 

Personally, I think a lifetime of being stressed out, always running to catch up but never being caught up, takes a toll on our health. How do we find balance then? How slow down? And if we can't slow down, how pace oneself so as to avoid burnout? How do we create spaces to refill our wells? 

For me, I have observed that life has seasons. Sometimes we're impelled to run, sometimes we're able to take a breather. Whatever we go through is a learning opportunity. There's a certain amount of energy generated when we have to meet deadlines. On the other hand, repetitive work that feels meaningless eventually takes its toll. The key is finding a pace that is right for you. 

* * * 

Slow Living
Here are some posts I have published in the past about the concept of slow living.

Slow Living Versus the Rush and Roar of Fast Track Life

The Slow City Movement

Slow Living and an Icelandic Illusion

No comments:

Popular Posts