Rushing around frenetically, as we Silicon Valley parents often tend to, I wonder if I can afford to take the time to stop and smell the roses. What if I took the time to actually listen to my kids patter and answer some of their endless questions, delve into the underlaying concerns, listening to music, reading a book, meet an old friend to catch up on gup-shup over masala chai, exercise 30 minutes a day, cook myself a healthy meal from scratch.……………….the list goes on. Little things that bring joy and feed the soul – seem like pipe dreams. I am jolted back to the reality of deadlines, schedules and to-do lists. Contemplating these existential questions seemed to be like the “wrong idea-wrong time” in this here Valley culture of uber-parents & super employees. I was beginning to think its just my metabolism slowing me down till I came across the following experience of an Indian working in Volvo, Sweden.
The first time I was in Sweden, one of my colleagues picked me up at
the hotel every morning. It was September, bit cold and snowy. We
would arrive early at the company and he would park far away from the
entrance (2000 employees drive their car to work). The first day, I
didn’t say anything, either the second or third. One morning I asked,
‘Do you have a fixed parking space? I’ve noticed we park far from the
entrance even when there are no other cars in the lot.’ To which he
replied, ‘Since we’re here early we’ll have time to walk, and whoever
gets in late will be late and need a place closer to the door. Don’t
you think?…………………..Imagine my face.
Seems like I may not be alone in thinking that a multi-tasking, overachieving, over-scheduled existence may be an over rated concept when it comes to quality of life.
Nowadays, there’s a movement in Europe name Slow Food. This movement
establishes that people should eat and drink slowly, with enough time
to taste their food, spend time with the family, friends, without
rushing. Slow Food is against its counterpart: the spirit of Fast
Food and what it stands for as a lifestyle. Slow Food is the basis for
a bigger movement called Slow Europe, as mentioned by Business Week.
Basically, the movement questions the sense of ‘hurry’ and ‘craziness’
generated by globalization, fueled by the desire of ‘having in
quantity’(life status) versus ‘having with quality’, ‘life quality’ or
the ‘quality of being’. French people, even though they work 35 hours
per week, are more productive than Americans or British. Germans have
established 28.8 hour workweeks and have seen their productivity been
driven up by 20%…This slow attitude has brought forth the US’s
attention, pupils of the fast and the ‘do it now!’
This no-rush attitude doesn’t represent doing less or having a lower
productivity. It means working and doing things with greater quality,
productivity, perfection, with attention to detail and less stress. It
means reestablishing family values, friends, free and leisure time.
Taking the ‘now’, present and concrete, versus the ‘global’, undefined
and anonymous. It means taking humans’ essential values, the
simplicity of living.
It stands for a less coercive work environment, more happy, lighter
and more productive where humans enjoy doing what they know best how
to do. It’s time to stop and think on how companies need to develop
serious quality with no-rush that will increase productivity and the
quality of products and services, without losing the essence of
spirit. In the movie, Scent of a Woman, there’s a scene where the
blind Al Pacino asks a girl to dance and she replies, ’I can’t, my
boyfriend will be here any minute now’. To which Al responds, ‘A life
is lived in an instant’. Then they dance to a tango.
Many of us live our lives running behind time, but we only reach it
when we die of a heart attack or in a car accident rushing to be on
time. Others are so anxious of living the future that they forget to
live the present, which is the only time that truly exists. We all
have equal time throughout the world. No one has more or less. The
difference lies in how each one of us does with our time. We need to
live each moment. As John Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens to you
while you’re busy making other plans’.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this rather long blogpost. Many will have stopped in the middle so as not to waste time in
this globalized world.