Slowing Down

I recently moved out of Southern CA, an area many folks associate with a “fast” lifestyle. There are all kinds of reasons for this:

  • You gotta move fast to beat rush hour traffic.
  • You gotta move fast to earn all the money it costs to enjoy the cost of living.
  • You gotta move extra fast to afford all the nice things your friends seem to have.
  • You gotta move extra, extra fast to afford help to make up for all the work you’re doing.

That’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea. There’s a lot to do and not enough time in the day to do all of it. That’s why Californians drive so gosh-darned fast — we take advantage of any opening there is to save a minute.

(I’m not defending the practice; just describing my 35 years of experience living there.)

I moved to Colorado for a number of reasons, one of the significant ones being the chance to adopt a slower lifestyle. That’s a lot easier said than done, so I’ve developed a few new habits to help me slow things down and I thought I’d share ’em because I think it exposes the areas in my life where I was probably living at unhealthy speeds, which may be interesting — and maybe even helpful — to you.

Drive the speed limit

Slowing down on the road is the single most effective way I can slow down my life. My right foot may as well be cast in lead after so many years of rushing to the next thing. Unless you’re driving on certain parts of Pacific Coast Highway or some scenic route, California driving is more of a chore than a treat. I want to get off the road as soon as possible.

But now I have a lot fewer cars to compete with on the roads of Fort Collins. Sure, there’s traffic, but folks tend to leave plenty of space between them and the next car, making for smoother trips. I feel a lot less pressure to hurry up because no one is riding my ass. As such, I get to slow down, hit the speed limit, and coast wherever it is I’m going.

And yes, it helps that I changed to Colorado license plates. Man, people seem to hate sharing their roads with Californians.

Use an iPad for work

No, this won’t be a joke on the processing power of tablets. But there is enough friction when it comes to using an iPad for work that it forces me to slow the heck down. I’ve used my iPad Pro for early morning work, typically between 6-8:00 a.m., which is the Baby Bear right amount of time for me to get through my inbox, follow up on things from the night before, get a good pulse on work-related news, and even start a blog post draft if the inspiration strikes.

I can write code on my iPad, but it’s so frustrating that I won’t even try to do it. Instead, I focus on what I can do well with the device I’m using. Sitting behind some super powerful and speedy device can be more stressful than liberating depending on the circumstance. Just as McLuhan famously said that the medium is the message, I believe that the medium can also set the speed limit.

In that sense, perhaps I ought to consider swapping my car for a moped to drive even slower. 🙃

Listen to albums over songs

If you’re like me, it’s so much easier to hit the Shuffle button on my music library than it is to decide on a specific album or artist to listen to.

At the same time, I find that a shuffled playlist is a lot like clicking hyperlinks on the web — it jumps me from one place to another, and that change might be disorienting. Jumping from one song to another can be as audibly jarring as jumping between websites can be visually jarring. There’s some context switching involved, and there’s no guarantee that the experience is going to have a direct connection. That’s why I really enjoy listening to complete albums rather than collections of individual songs. Albums tend to provide a theme or at least some sonic parity between songs.

It’s possible I’m super sensitive in this department, but I find a cohesive album can help me slow down to the point where I pay attention to the lyrical and sonic themes embedded in it. I also find it easier to shut off a playlist than an album that I’ve committed to listening to all the way through.

And the medium is also able to set the speed limit here as it does when using an iPad for morning work; listening to an album on vinyl prevents me from skipping songs, hitting repeat on a particular song, or changing albums. Heck, I even have to stop what I’m doing to flip the disc when Side A is done.

That’s exactly why my record player sits in my office in a prime location, where all my albums are organized and easily accessible.

An Ikea media center with square cubes holding records ib alphabetical order.

Have multiple offices

I love my new office but there’s only a 50-50 chance you’ll find me there on any given workday. That’s because I’m constantly changing where I work. I might spend a few hours working from the back patio, the public library, or some café depending on my mood. I’m sitting at Panera right now while sipping on a ginormous iced tea I’m sure will force me to take a potty break in short order.

I go wherever I think I’m going to feel most relaxed. And that might mean stopping where I’m at to re-locate somewhere new.

And I go the speed limit if changing desks requires me to drive — double score!

We all move at different paces

Is all of this working for me? Mmm, the answer to that will come in time. But what I can say is that I find my daily routine looks a lot less like the White Bunny from Alice in Wonderland

…and a lot more like some dude you’d expect to see sitting comfortably in the pristine sands of some Southern California beach… only I’m living somewhere that’s much more conducive to slowing down.

Handwritten by Geoff Graham on August 8, 2022

Comments

  1. # August 8, 2022

    checked out of the Hotel California
    (moved to Minneapolis in 2019)
    and haven’t looked back since

    things I got since I moved here:
    – 4-wheel drive vehicle
    – radio
    – turntable
    – books
    – bike (w/studded snow tires for Winter!)
    – alarm clock
    – manual watch
    – winter clothes!

    Reply
    • # August 9, 2022

      That’s an awesome list! I know you’re usually on the move, so having a bunch of new stuff that forces you to sit still must be a brand new feeling for you.

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