Today, our world is moving toward quicker, shorter, more-concise communication. We who once had pen pals and spent hours on the phone now text and tweet to interact. Though we lose the poetry, personality and leisure of deep conversation, we absorb information and accomplish tasks much faster. Like in a screenplay where any line not driving the plot forward is cut, only the essentials remain.
Or do they? In our rush towards a life that Daft Punk aptly describes as “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” have we accustomed ourselves to ignoring moments of divine stillness? How do we maintain forward momentum while cherishing the beauty of living slowly?
Speed that Serves
As always, we turn to True Parents for inspiration. True Father advises:
“Do not live taking it easy. If that were acceptable, why would I have pursued a lifestyle that kept landing me in jail and made me the target of finger-pointing as someone who should be beaten to death? I could not but live that way.”
True Parents often display speed and efficiency, but they would just as easily spend long, prayerful hours on a fishing boat as they would on whirlwind speaking tours, demonstrating the equally tremendous value in deliberately doing certain things slowly.
The same is true for us; in striking the right balance between efficiency and experience, it’s essential for each to serve the other, thereby serving us and our goals. Life can seem complicated, and perpetually busy, but it becomes simpler when we choose our pace with a clear intention.
We all experience contradictions, and like any sort of conflict, harmonizing these two seemingly dissonant methods provides us with an optimal chance to grow.
Create as we Eliminate
Let’s get real: nobody ever feels like they have enough time. What can we do to free up time we want to spend strengthening our relationships and engaging in our passions?
Here’s where efficiency comes in: plenty of apps and programs like IFThisThanThat or Evernote can automate some of the small tasks we tend to do manually, freeing extra minutes for more meaningful activity…but be cautious! App stores are like a digital candy shop, and as with any form of media consumption, venturing too far in can eat up all that time we’ve been trying to save for the things we truly care about.
The best technology is that which, by eliminating the unhelpful, genuinely empowers us. For example, techniques like the Pomodoro timer and apps like SelfControl can help us to be more vigilant with our time. For the extra brave, try unplugging completely for a day and focusing only on what can be accomplished without technology—the results can be surprising!
Similarly, if we struggle to determine our life goals, we can try reducing ourselves to a few words: What’s my elevator pitch? My mission statement? What do I want my tombstone to say? The intentional brevity of these exercises gives us an anchor of clarity, keeping us from drowning in our thoughts.
This same process can serve our relationships. Whether those we love are across town or across the globe, relationships thrive when we use quick communication to regularly reinforce our love—but not as a substitute for moments of real connection. For example, a quick hello text to a friend is a nice gesture to show we care, but it cannot replace time spent together in deep conversation or shared experience.
In all these situations, the key is using efficiency as a tool to eliminate anything that detracts from the important, to help us seize more control over our time, so we can use it on things that truly satisfy.
In Defense of Shorter
We’ve discussed the value of using “quick” to support “slow,” but might there also be instances where the reverse is true? Absolutely!
Lingering in a moment and drinking in its full-bodied glory can be satisfying, but sometimes those still moments conceal a more-troublesome behavior: stalling. Also known as procrastinating, or resisting what we know we must do, this is the sort of slowness we want to avoid. When we learn to recognize the difference between the two, we save time and energy that can be used on taking action!
At first glance, “slow and steady” and “fast and efficient” can seem incompatible, but when we learn to put these two methods to work in tandem, they help us create a life that is freer, more productive and truer to the wonderfully dichotomous people we are.