Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's time to get in the slow lane - in Bali

October 2, 2010

I am in Bali, a BlackBerry- and iPhone-free zone for the Padley family. Not by decree but by choice. Our mobile phones have burbled a couple of times in the room safe but I'll be buggered if we're letting anyone chase us around out here. If you've ever been surfing at Echo Beach ("Far away in time") at sunset you'll appreciate that there are times when the leash on your ankle is enough. Time with the family and oneself is possibly the most valuable time of the year without someone else's agenda disrupting it. But still some of my fellow guests seem glued to the outside world. An electronic leash on their ear. Glad I'm not married to you.

I was once very impressed with the ''Out of Office'' email message of one of my previous editors. It informed emailers that: "I am out of the office until January 12th. When I return I will delete my whole inbox. If your message was important send it again when I'm back."

It's only when you force yourself to stop that you realise how much rushing and racing around you are doing. In a hyper-wired world it seems the mantra is to move fast whatever the direction with fairly devilish consequences on a number of fronts. Health is the most obvious. The cost of a life spent in stress can be catastrophic, life shortening and ageing.

If that's you then you may like to read about the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness or Awareness. It involves you paying attention to whatever influences bear on your mind and body.

Awareness that you have a phone stuck to your ear. That your sedentary life has narrowed your arteries, weakened your heart and lost you years in the pursuit of average income. That your four coffees a day would render the average child feral if not physically sick. That you allow yourself to spend long periods anxious.

To be aware of what you are doing helps "heal and restore you, constantly reminding you of who you actually are so that you don't wind up as a human doing rather than a human being". It involves listening to your body and watching your own actions. Fail to do that and the first person to tell you about your loss of life force will be your ex or a paramedic or the Lord himself.

There is a book called In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore. It is an international bestseller. There is also the "slow movement" spawned in part by a protest in Italy against McDonald's and fast food. The Italian pioneers started the "slow food" concept. The slow movement talks about the fast life being all around us - "We don't take the time to linger over food, over friends, over our family. We are not savouring our life and are starving of the real connection to our life."

And there are now many movements that battle against anything "fast". Slow travel, slow conversations, and even slow sex. There's also slow cities, slow schools, slow books, slow living and slow money.

The slow movement's webpage on slow money says that "This page is currently being created. It is a slow process." This is despite the movement having been around for 20 years. I respect that. Interpret it as you will. Incompetence. Unprofessional. It speaks volumes. To me it says they have found more important things to do than money, like having slow sex perhaps. Sort of like my holiday. More power to doing everything in slow motion from now on.

Marcus Padley is a stockbroker with Patersons Securities and the author of stockmarket newsletter Marcus Today. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of Patersons.

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