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May 7, 2017

How to Embrace Slow Living when Life starts yelling “Wake the F*ck Up!”

It is only when we break through the status quo that we can slowly unveil the truth standing behind it.

In my life, it took a tough experience to learn this truth. And it happened within an intimate, important relationship—the one with my mother.

I was young, learning how to be on my own, and incredibly self-absorbed. My only interest was getting ahead, and my image was of the utmost importance. I was consumed with the ideology that if I just got to the next step, I would be happy.

But the next step was never good enough, and I would quickly be left feeling empty and wanting more. There was always something better out there.

Starting at an early age, we are trained to believe that being fast is what will get us places in the world. It doesn’t matter so much how we get there, just that we’re the first at the top. Quality has gone out the window.

Just turn on the television to watch the nightly news or most any entertainment show. Our media sells us the belief that appearance and status are what really matters. The faster we get there the better. Businesses, and even news sources, thrive off of selling us products and information we don’t need to make us look better than people we don’t care about.

This gives us a competitive mentality where we are constantly judging and comparing ourselves to others—it makes us feel inadequate. This harmful and self-destructive pattern distracts us from what slow living is all about.

Slow living is about being present in each day, each moment.

It’s about a life where what you own, the titles you hold, and the money you earn don’t matter; what matters is truth. Instead of unconsciously following the crowd and what is popular, it’s taking a look around and seeing things for what they are.

It can be hard to ask ourselves what is true for us, especially when the answer doesn’t go along with everything else around us. Living in alignment with this truth, however, creates harmony in our lives rather than resistance.

At the time that I was grappling with my own truth, my mother had been diagnosed with cancer. It was terminal, and I knew her time was limited.

I was in a depressed place, and the distractions in my life seemed to temporarily fill the emptiness I felt inside. But focusing on getting ahead pulled me away from the person I loved so much. By living in the future, I didn’t realize all the beauty I had in that moment—those opportunities where we could’ve sat and laughed together while making wonderful memories, chances to just enjoy each other’s presence and be there, together.

Those chances were gone once she took her last breath. My heart and whole being ached. Not only had I lost my mother, but I had been so reckless with the precious time we had together. I felt shame and regret. I will never spend another moment with my mother in this lifetime. I lost my chances, and for what?

It was like life was holding me by the shoulders and shaking me, telling me to wake the f*ck up! Don’t you see? Look at what you lost!

We live in a world where everyone seem to be completely oblivious to what truly matters; we are often distracted and always busy. It’s only when we wake up and realize that our belief systems—whether they are based on religious views, environmental views, political beliefs, or personal beliefs about our own lives—are mostly lies, will we be able to stop distracting ourselves and start caring.

Building up an illusion based on false information will lead to the collapse of our own happiness. When our foundations are shattered, we lose our sense of self and our identity. Whether we realize it at an early age, or later in life, there comes a moment when we stop to see what our lives are made up of. Is it fulfilling and meaningful? Were we true to ourselves while being honest and authentic?

Eventually, we have to face the facts.

It was a turning point for me to understand that everything I thought mattered actually didn’t. The fast life fades away. What’s new today becomes old tomorrow. But experiences with the people who are right in front of us become memories that stay with us.

We don’t know if we’ll get a second chance. And if we do not pay attention, chances will eventually fade out of our lives, never to return again.

I realized that my life was unfolding and I wasn’t there to experience it. I was terrified. What if I keep living this life without really living it? What if I keep rushing through things, relationships, and places without seeing the essence of what is right in front of me?

This was the cold, hard truth for me—and I knew I had to accept it. I knew I had to change something.

Slow living, like slow journalism, is about seeking and discovering the truth. A journalist’s job is to search out the facts, what’s real in a story. Aren’t we seeking the same in life? Shouldn’t we dig deep into what our story—our truth—is?

The 24/7 news cycle, instant access to the web, and industry marketing splashed on every street corner leads to information being thrown at us like a fastball. Slow journalism allows us to take a step back, analyze the facts, and then take action. It’s not about being first, but about speaking the truth.

With so many options of where to look and constant confusion about what is real, we can become paralyzed, and the ability to recognize the truth in ourselves, and the world, can become more and more difficult. We have gotten lost in a world of information overload. Sometimes the truth can be right in front our of faces, and we don’t even see it.

The focus of slow journalism, and slow living, is to bring people back to what is important, what matters to us. Society may have looked the other way on what is real, but as Aldous Huxley wrote, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

I have seen a transformation happen in my life once I began to slow down. It has brought happiness and fulfillment to each day. I don’t regret experiences, because I know that I was there and these moments were lived to the fullest. I learned that for me, people and experiences are the gems in life. They are my truth—they are what matters to me.

I don’t know what the future holds, so I cherish my loved ones and say “yes” to experiences. Instead of living for tomorrow, which may not come, I choose to do what I can, here and now. Of course, I’m still learning and this doesn’t happen all the time, but each day I see it more and more.

Now I watch life unfold in a magical, and sometimes mystical, way that I do not always understand, but am grateful for.

We are all seeking meaning and purpose in our lives. We want the truth, but are oftentimes scared of it. But it is when we break free from the chains of fast living and information overload that we can consciously and slowly begin living in happiness and harmony with our truth.

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Author: Tatiana Hall
Image: Christopher Windus/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron

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