Slowness. It’s an under-appreciated quality in a world of hyper-fast internet speeds, productivity hacks, and instant results. Slowness is grounding. Slowness is sustainable. It’s the yin to the yang of our frenetic times.
Have you heard of slow television? It’s an extremely long broadcast of something ordinary and well, slow. The Norwegian Broadcast Corporation popularized the genre back in 2009 when they broadcast a driver’s eye view of a 7-hour train journey from Bergen to Oslo, and a quarter of the Norwegian population tuned in. You can find slow television videos of train rides, boat journeys, forest walks, knitting, or really anything devoid of narrative, character or structure. It’s meant to be boring.
I started watching slow television a few years ago with my dog. She seemed to enjoy watching tv but would bark anytime a dog appeared onscreen. And if you’ve never had a dog that barks at the sight of another dog onscreen you might not know this, but a dog appears on television approximately every 10 seconds. I wanted something dog-free for her to watch while she was home alone, so I’d turn on a marathon train ride and soon become so engrossed that I’d forget I was supposed to be leaving the house to go someplace important like a meeting or a dental cleaning. It was so hard to look away— no plot to follow, no characters to invest in, just pure observation, a respite I didn’t know I needed.
The beauty of slowness is that we can tap into it anytime. We can meditate, watch a 7-hour train ride video, or just stare off into space. Slowness helps the brain generate alpha waves, which promote mental coordination, calmness, alertness and learning. Slowness is a balm for an overstimulated mind. Speed is overrated. Busyness is a trap. Sometimes we need to embrace the slow.
Love and gratitude,