It's a great time of year to read Chasing Slow. As some of us set goals for 2017 to work towards a more ideal version of ourselves or a more ideal life, this book is an entertaining confession from a gal reminding us that conditions and circumstances don't create the ideal. Surprisingly, the book's not really a call to take up or quit the chase, but to see the chase for what it is. Chasing Slow offers an invitation to surrender the "ideal".
Some of our favorite bits, and how we're practicing…
C O R D
"The same hunger that seeks community, togetherness, discovery, and expression also roars with pride-- with self-doubt, comparison, envy, loneliness. Online we fed ourselves both." (Page 71)
For me, this was a solid reminder that there are two sides to the same coin. Call it community/comparison or expression/self-doubt or togetherness/loneliness. With one, comes the other. So when one side of the coin is showing, I can see it and flip it to the other. Each and every time I step into the arena, the social world or the physical world, with YOU, with others. I remind myself that if I want connection, I have to give connection. If I feel lonely, you might too. If I feel doubtful, I am comparing. None of which makes me a bad person or a failure at life. All of which make me human. All of which are reversible. All of which are practice. I practice connecting, loving, being, supporting. When I feel lacking, I practice flipping the coin.
Chapter 21 is a whole bunch about service and love and giving freely. It's beautifully written and this quote is just...ah "When we serve from this place, from a place of expectation, of mutual back-scratching, of deeds for praise, it is not true service. When we decide that 'Got it---Thanks' does not properly reflect the effort we put into an act of service, this is not a place of true sacrifice." (Page 190)
Service is a huge piece of my heart. When I serve others, I am able to step outside of myself for a bit. To give and love someone else it amazing. It is also tiring, especially when I fall into the spiral of comparison. I have found myself thinking I spent so much time being there for her, listening to her, loving her and she shows me no gratitude, she doesn't reach out or call. She doesn't care. This thinking breeds resentment and resentment is the opposite of love. I am here for love. To love and to serve. So along with flipping the coin, I am reminding myself that service is sacrifice. That I have been given to and given to. That life isn't instant gratification, put $5 in and get $5 out. Sometimes its put $5 in and get $3 out. Sometimes it's put $5 get $500 out. The important part is that if I am about love and service, I have to put in, to give freely.
M A D D I E
I underlined this quote in chapter 18. "Pursuing the slow life is just as exhausting as pursuing the fast one. Without grace, minimalism is another metric for perfection. Chasing slow is still a chase." (Page 166)
This was the center of the book to me. A kind reminder that minimalism/simplification/slowness are not the goal. They are a means. Sometimes I make a simple home my "ideal" assuming that when I've achieved it, I'll be perfect, or at least my home will be. I'm remembering that Mitch and I are less stressed when we have a little more than we need. I'm returning to our intention. We're simplifying—NOT budgeting all we earn, NOT scheduling all our free time, and NOT using all our space—to reduce stress. More peace is the goal. Simplifying is the method.
Erin tempers her stories about pursuing the ideal, with a warning about expectations. She tells story after story about circumstances, opportunities, and relationships that didn't meet her expectations. And notices that the expectations are the flaw, not circumstances. Requiring aspects of my life to somehow measure up and deliver can spoil them. So, while simplifying does sometimes help Mitch and I avoid stress and find margin, placing an expectation on simple/minimal/slow to deliver our happiness is dangerous.
At the end of the chapter, I scribbled this in the margin: CHOICES mean opportunity to fail. TIME guarantees more choices. TIME also grants us the perspective to see our failures with dignity—to celebrate them as part of our wholeness.
I'm inspired to stand by my choices, not because they are capital "R" right, but because owning what I'm doing right now is vulnerable. I.e. "Right now, I am chasing slow." Because if I can be vulnerable, maybe others will feel safe to own their intentions and methods too. I.e. "Right now, life is fast and busy, full of everything we value and cherish." I think this will make us feel more connected than trying to agree on what "ideal" is.
If you find yourself going from fast to slow, from one thing to the next, looking for something different, chasing the ideal, you are welcome to join our book club. Pick up Chasing Slow on January 10th!
E R I N