There has been more material progress in the United States in the 20th century than there was in the entire world in all the previous centuries combined. Almost every indicator of health, wealth, safety, nutrition, affordability and availability of consumer goods and services, environmental quality, and social conditions indicates rapid improvement over the past century
– Moore, S and Simon, J
Technological barriers are pushed beyond its limits, the medicinal industries continues to make quantum leaps in medical breakthroughs, there seems to be no end to human progress [to what we can do] as we continue to push forward, blazing a trail into the future that we see in those futuristic sci-fi movies. Progress has also inevitably changed the way we do things, handle things, manage things. What could take an airmail days to reach its recipient from one continent to another could be received by the former via a fax machine in a matter of seconds. As if that wasn’t instant enough, the recipient can now browse through the contents of a document right on his handheld via an Email and even edit it in real time via Google docs. Pick up the baton, they say. Progress, they say. We are living better lives, longer lives so why are we rushing through life? We are told that fast is better, more is good, slow is an inhibition to progress. As a result, we are conditioned like moths to a flame; being attracted to words like ‘fast track to..’, ‘instant recipes to..’, ‘get rich in x steps’. We want everything to be instant; instant noodles, instant messaging, fast food, instant replies, instant results, speed dating, speed deliveries, instant coffee, instant gratification, instant everything.
While instant is good, there’s beauty in slowing down at times too. Slowing down like spending a lazy afternoon with a friend over coffee and HTHTs, slowing down like earning our keep by the sweat of our brow over get-rich schemes, slowing down like taking time to whip up a sumptuous food spread that Gordon Ramsey would be proud of over getting takeaways and instant noodles, slowing down like taking time to fall in love, slowing down like writing a snail mail over instant messaging, slowing down like letting others get ahead.
Sometimes slow is fast. A lasting friendship is built through the years from many seemingly insignificant and time-wasting chit chats; not through one sitting. Marriages last the decades through numerous time-consuming dates and spending of quality time; you can’t buy a happy marriage by merely showering gifts on your spouse. A house that can weather the elements is one that is built brick by [boring] brick and not haphazardly put together.
I took the photo below at the Botanic Garden a year ago when I was exploring photography. An amateur then, I failed miserably trying to capture the flow of the waterfall when I couldn’t get my DSLR configured with the right settings. Nevertheless I kept the photo in my hard drive. It’s been more than a year now, a little wiser now. Today I see a different side of this photo. It is still the same photo, but it just looks great.
Sometimes we just need to slow down, break away from the instant-ness of life, so that we can see the bigger picture and where we fit in in the larger scheme of things.