A few years ago I read one of those books that actually revolutionized my thinking in the same way that Kate Millet’s ‘Sexual politics’ did, the same way that Anais Nin’s ‘Little Birds’ did and the same way that E.E. Cummings’ poetry did.
And it was bloody pop-philosophy!
But it engendered that moment of ‘A-ha’, of recognition of something previously felt but unarticulated. It was Carl Honore’s book ‘In praise of slow’, a (remarkably succinct given it’s title) discourse on the merits of slowing down: in our sex, our cities, our cooking, music and parenting.
The book is not brilliantly written, but-
My slow-soul, the one who sings ballads, grows herbs, cooks pot-food and likes nothing better than the vast uncharted terrain of an unplanned afternoon, responded to the slow philosophy with a sigh as grateful as if sinking into a warm bath. Finally something articulated that tremulousness that hovers at the brink when we drink in air deeply, touch the food we cook lovingly, and rediscover the deliciousness of our lovers’ back beneath our hands over an entire afternoon.
Carl Honore is also the author of “The Power of Slow: Finding Balance and Fulfilment Beyond the Cult of Speed,” and, more recently, “Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting,” which has been recently re-released.
I’ve actually not read these, but from other reading about the ‘cult of slow’ established with my husband a kind of philosophy as to how we want to parent our little seedling. And the best way I can summarize is to say we want to stretch time, every day, for as long as possible. We want time like sticky-taffy, time like pink chewing-gum, time like in the Tardis, time like it felt on the first day of summer school holidays.
This means resisting the pull of scheduled activity to instead observe then wallow in the rhythms of what the body and mind wants on that particular day.
This could be rest, but it could also be mad joyous play, music, dancing or drumming.
Slow parenting does not mean non-stop calm and quietude.
If I have plans, I feel I must stick to them so as not to let people down.
Plan-less I can observe my boy being twitchy, or dozy, or curious or bored. I can observe myself wanting to stimulate him, or just cuddle up with him. Plan-less, I am left to my own resources to satisfy this experience-insatiable little person.
It helps that my home is full of books and instruments and things growing in the yard. But the best discovery is that my mine, oops, mind is resource-rich, veined with fine fissures of gold, silver-ore and sapphire. All the accumulated wealth of years of imaginative play with my Mum as I grew up in her slow home. Wealth aplenty!
Enough to dazzle the eyes of a four-month old anyway…