This short article was posted amidst the coronavirus outbreak, one week after the British government enforced the general public to go into isolation.
In today’s super-connected and fast-paced world, slowing down can seem like a thing of the past, of times gone by.
As a freelancer and small business owner, I’ll put my hands up and say this can be tough. Today, we creatives and small business owners are almost hardwired to live ever-faster, more productive lives if we are to ‘succeed’. The greater number of ideas, products, artwork, and stories to be shared daily with our audience should be growing exponentially. But only if we put enough of our time into the daily grind of digital marketing to satisfy that ever-evolving algorithm (which may or may not punish you depending on whether you have conformed to its latest optimum rules for posting).
But what if we were to just hit pause? Less time looking down scrolling. More time looking up seeing. The never-ending to-do list gradually becomes less pressing. The urgency begins to fade. We start to notice the smaller things in the day-to-day. The background noise in the brain is turned down. Nature's birdsong is gradually turned up. And with the changing mental approach, our daily habits start to change to.
It wasn’t until the pandemic forced my hand / opened my eyes to just how fast / relentless we’ve become that I had to snap out of my daily habits and reevaluate what truly matters. Family, friends, physical nourishment in the form of good food, sourced locally, from farm To fork (or grown ourselves if possible) mental nourishment - in the form of nature, breathing, reading. And of course community, a definition that has been turned on its head as we turn to Zoom and other virtual windows to connect us to our friends and family, collaborators and colleagues.
Once we slow down things start to change. The never-ending list of to-do’s gradually becomes less urgent. The background noise in the brain is turned down, the birdsong is turned up.
On the first day of isolation, I made the decision to return to my parent's house in Wales. For many of us, these challenging times are giving us an opportunity to collectively slow down and reevaluate our lifestyles. A vegetable garden (or even a tomato pot on a windowsill) can become a pathway to new modes of living.
Slowing down, to me, means two things.
1. Living more in the present moment, being mindful of the task at hand. Being more aware of the sense in the day-to-day, picking up on the plane-free blue skies, flourishing insects, and bird song.
2. Allocating my time differently. Perhaps ‘allocating’ is the wrong turn of phrase - the word itself suggests that our precious time needs to fit into some kind of schedule. Replacing 'productive' creative output time with regenerative input. Potting plants and walking in nature over emails and illustration time.
Now I have to take the opportunity to recognise my privilege. I’m in a fortunate position where I have the luxury of being able to not only relocate to somewhere with a deeper connection to the outdoors, but also being a self employed designer - still with work, with little overheads. Of course, we don’t all have the luxury of being in this position that I feel truly grateful for.
It seems like something has fundamentally changed in the way we value our time - and I’m not alone. People the world over are re-evaluating their lifestyles and taking time to 'slow down'. There seems to be what can only be described as a new age revolution of home growers - from windowsill tomato champions to raised bed warriors. And this in turn is getting us to think about where our food comes from.
So for me, I started by upcycling my oat milk containers and turning them into planters for my tomato plants and herbs. I’ve prepared raised beds for rows of potatoes (three kinds) with my dad and digging dog red setter. Weeding the old beds of dreaded horsetails, a resilient weed which I soon found less resentment for as A friend taught me that they are a relic from the ice age, and used to grow as large as trees. Amazing.