The Slow Road to Slowness
In the early 1980s, women began to more than whisper about the strain they were put through to balance their work at home and their work outside it. The Women’s Liberation Movement brought work-life balance to the forefront. To accommodate women in the workforce, flexible working schedules and maternity leave were popularized. And so that men don’t feel left behind, these benefits and ideas were expanded to accommodate them too.
A lot has happened in the fifty years since. Technology has made labour and communication easier. Manufacturing hires as many robots as humans. We can travel the distance from the earth to the outer limits of the atmosphere in 29 minutes. Why then, are so many of us working so hard to be able to eventually slow down.
One reason could be what it costs to slow down. Pure and natural are more expensive than chemically boosted products (the irony is not lost on us). Mechanisation and artificial intelligence are competing with people for employment rather than enhancing their lives. The basic necessities of life - clean water and food, hygienic housing, medical assistance, education - are products of capitalistic monoliths rather than fundamental rights. Ensuring these for yourself and your family means you work harder and longer for years to come.
Not surprising then that today, slow living or work–life balance is also a multimillion dollar industry. A Google search for “work–life balance” brings up over a million results including links for tools, scientific articles, and consulting companies to help create work–life balance. Living a simple life is now a complex web one must navigate through.
So how do those who are able to pursue a slower, more meaningful way of life manage to do so. I believe it can be summed up in one word. Fearless. Slow living is for the brave. Brave enough to not be seen on social media. Brave enough to choose connections over connectivity. Brave enough to say no.