Generation X: Slow Motion
When I was 10, my life looked like this:
- Get up. (When Mum wakes me.)
- Get dressed. (When Mum dresses me.)
- Eat breakfast. (That Mum cooks for me.)
- Go to school. (When the bus driver drives me.)
- Learn, play and socialise. (While teachers look after me.)
Most of the time I looked like this:
Life was easy peasy. I just had to get that top button done up, then slip into my Easter Bunny hat, and the rest took care of itself.
My Speed of Life was around that of a sloth.
Generation X: Speeding Up
In my 20s, the Speed of Life picked up:
- Get up late for work after abusing the snooze button too many times
- Get dressed in unwashed, un-ironed clothes ‘prepared’ by me
- Eat unheated, leftover pizza from the previous night for breakfast
- Drive barely-running car to work at excessive speeds to compensate for lateness
- Do menial, underpaid work all day
- Finish work with a compulsion to meet every person in every bar between work and home
- Stay up way too late socialising
I mostly looked like this:
Life was hectic, but all fun (even when you go bald in your 20s).
Generation X: Full Speed of Life
- 5am: Jump out of bed (no snooze button, because 5-6am is the only time the house is quiet and I can write in peace)
- 6am: Prepare own breakfast, prepare lunch for work, do laundry/ironing, unpack dishwasher
- 6:30am: Gym
- 8am: Help kids get ready for school, mediate brother-sister fighting, sign excursion forms, run around trying to scrape together excursion money, locate lost house keys, help with forgotten homework, etc
- 8:15am: Pile kids into car and drive through increasingly horrendous traffic before turning around to retrieve child’s forgotten very important item from home. Repeat ad nauseam.
- 8:50am: Arrive at work frazzled and commence a day of work-related stress…
You get the picture.
By 9pm, I look like this:
Speed of People
Remember when the fastest speed a human could reach was a full sprint? Me neither.
But there was a time before we domesticated animals and invented machines when the speed of humans was limited to how fast our legs could carry us away from a sabre-tooth lion.
Then we tamed horses, invented cars, cracked air travel, and even held a space race.
And in the last 50 years, we got seriously fast.
- In 2016 A Person on Bicycle clocked 144 km/h
- The fastest speed in a car is 1,228 km/h (yup, that happened)
- Felix Baumgartner hit 1,358 km/h in free fall after he jumped from a weather balloon on the edge of the atmosphere (and lived!)
- And way back in 1969, humans travelled the fastest speed ever – a whooping 39,897 km/h – on Apollo 10’s return from the moon
Speed of Life
These feats are at the extreme ends of our need for speed. But in suburbs, the average Speed of Life was breaking records too.
We invented cars to get to places quicker. Then washing machines and dishwashers to make housework faster (and men finally decided to chip in around the house too!).
We created unions and work standards to get the working day done quicker (40 hours per week, as opposed to the 70-hour work week in the 1800s). Then computerised and connected everything so we can bank from home in minutes and email in the blink of an eye.
Work life and home life became more convenient. So, we should have more spare time to kick back and relax, right?
It seems instead of relaxing, we filled our growing spare time with all manner of modern things:
- We added kindy, then preschool to our kids education. Then we added university or technical college.
- As life became more sedentary, we added gym work and sport to our high-calorie lifestyles.
- Over-parenting became the norm, and we feel obliged to enrol our kids in all manner of sports and activities and hobbies and interests and social events.
- Power, gas, water, internet and phone communications came into our homes – often with different providers, bills and supply issues.
- We help our kids with increasing levels of homework and fret over their growing social media obsession.
- We change jobs more often, buy and sell houses and cars more often, own everything from canoes to snow skis, and go on more and more increasingly complicated holidays.
Life became more dense, so we moved quicker to keep up.
Is Your Life Too Fast?
The short answer is this: If it feels too fast, then it’s too fast.
But if you’re like me, and need to see the hard data, then take this massively scientific and rigorously tested quiz to find out your Speed of Life.
(Pro Tip: You can also skip this bit. Scroll to the end for ideas on how to slow down the Speed of Life.)
How do you stack up?
Ok, here’s Maggie’s and my Speed of Life. I’ve also estimated some other people’s speed for comparison.
- MTG 50 km/h
- Maggie 70 km/h
- Neanderthals 15 km/h
- 1950s Housewife 50 km/h
- 1950s Man 25 km/h
- Charlie (our dog) 15 km/h
- The Kardashians (I can’t tell the difference between them, so I’ve used the collective noun) 4.5 km/h
How to SLOW Down
There’s lots of content on the ‘net about slow living. Most of it clusters around three themes.
We can’t refuse to run kids around or just stop going to work, but we can make different choices each day that can change our trajectory from increasing complexity to more simplicity. Stuff like this:
- Say no to more things. Delegate more to our partner or kids. Question whether we really need to do all the things we’re doing? How many organised sports and interests do the kids have? Unorganised playtime, socialising and – dare I say it – boredom/alone time are important too.
- Simplify family events – let someone else organise. Schedule in family time to hang out and do nothing. Try back-to-basics holidays – chilllaxing on the beach, instead of a jam-packed sightseeing and adventure activity itinerary.
Stop and Smell the Bacon
The slow movement is big on living more in the moment. Stuff like:
- Do less pleasure-seeking or quick-fix fun activities (like watching TV or munching on Doritos) and more people-focussed and challenging fun activities. (like a beach trip or hike or build a cubby house with the kids). Time will pass slower, you’ll create memories and you’ll appreciate the time more.
- Focusing on what you’re eating while you’re having meals. Don’t watch Netflix or troll the internet while you’re eating. You’ll enjoy your meal more and, as an added bonus, you’ll eat less.
Slow Your Perception of Time
The more sciency sources of information on living simply emphasise ways to slow our perception of time. My favourite tips are:
- Be aware of your environment. Notice the weather, the sky, plant life and the seasons. Take note of the changes each day and over the months as the climate changes. It helps keep you present and time will pass slower – in the same way that a ‘watched kettle never boils’.
- Get up earlier. You’ll get through those essential tasks earlier and feel less rushed when the day gets moving. The peace and quiet of early morning sets the tone for the day and dampens stress.
Keep reading stuff like this post (Pro Tip: There’s an email sign-up box right below), it helps to keep you thinking about life, so that you’re living like you mean it.
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