Thursday, March 24, 2011

Slow Down, Part 2

Of course, when I was in Spain, I was on vacation, so it was easy for me to slow down. When I looked around me, however, I saw that I wasn't the only one. Even in the big city of Madrid where there was lots of hustle and bustle, I was surrounded by folks who were taking the time for a late afternoon bocadillo de calamares (squid sandwich) and a beer.

Light glinting off rows of glasses hanging up at Mercado de San Miguel (the San Miguel Market) in Madrid. Here you can have a cafe con leche, a pastry, a glass of wine, or buy an octopus to cook up for dinner.

The famous Spanish siestas were evident, as the cities slowed down (many businesses closed) in the late afternoon.

And even in the middle of a rainy Wednesday, folks had lined up for Mass, taking time to feed their spiritual selves:

This made me think a lot about our American way of being. We like to hurry. We say "work is my life." We hurry so that we can earn money and buy more things to fill our giant houses.

But if you live in a city apartment, like these ones in Barcelona, how much stuff can you really have?
And if you can't fill your house with any more stuff, then why not slow down?

For those of us who work for others, however, the questions are a bit harder. I work for a non-profit fighting for educational justice. All of us believe that achieving that justice is urgent, and so people in my organization work incredibly long hours (by virtue of a gift for efficiency, I work quite a bit less than many of the people I know, which is a great blessing - but I do consider it a random gift of the universe). How do you decide, when your work is so important, whether you can give yourself the opportunity to slow down?

I don't know the answer to that question. What I do know is that I'm sitting on the deck blogging, while my neighbor sits on her deck reading. Both of us have drinks, and neither of us are in a hurry to acquire more stuff at the moment. There's even a palm tree waving in the breeze. Maybe a little corner of Spain has made its way to the US after all.

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