Engaging, Participating, Interacting, Creating – Fulfillment, Leadership, Organization, Wisdom

Embrace Your Inner Snail

Posted by Herman Najoli on August 24, 2007

Society today is consumed with the idea of speed. All we want is the next fastest thing. We want “instant” information, “high-speed” internet, “fast” food, “rapid” results, “immediate” action, “accelerated” education, “expedited” mail, “supersonic” jets, “swift” change, even “quick” sex. What happened to slowness? The leisurely, sluggish and unhurried are branded names while the fast and quick is celebrated.

In this quest for faster and better, is there any future for slowness? What price are we paying in our quest for speed? It is reflected all over our society – on college campuses where students are running from class to class then to workplaces, in the corporate world where everyone’s favorite book is Business @ The Speed of Thought and in homes where fast-paced living has become the norm. 

Slow should become the new fast. I was born and brought up in Africa where slow is the norm. No one has mastered the art of living slow like the people in my rural village on the shores of Lake Victoria in Western Kenya. Life is luxury for them. Their motto is “Hurry, hurry, has no blessing”. When I came to the United States in August 2001, I was astounded at the pace of life. I remember going to a grocery store during my first week when I was not yet familiar with the currency. I had a ton of coins and bills which I pulled out of my pocket and started counting slowly in front of the clerk. His look, and that of the customers behind me, could have melted a glacier! But the truth is that our fast-paced life is melting glaciers in real life. The industrial revolution, in it’s quest for better and faster, has hastened the melting of glaciers immensely.

Given all this, what is the future of mankind? We have a choice for high velocity or slowness. My position is that slow is cool. We all need to apply the brakes. Stress levels are rising because of the speed at which we drive our lives. Human contact has become fleeting, at best. We don’t connect any more because we are rushing for the next event. It’s time to embrace our “inner snail”. The inner snail’s motto is this: “slow and steady wins the race”. Let’s send more letters than emails, ride more bikes than drive cars, use the crock-pot rather than the microwave, visit friends and chat instead of sending text messages and make love with the person that we have chosen to take the time to slowly get to know instead of have rapid quickies.

After experiencing the fast pace of life in the US, I went back home (where the people have mastered the art of slow living) to visit in 2005. I had an opportunity to embrace my inner snail when I went to a local internet-cafe to check my email. It took me longer to open the internet and load the pages than it would have taken me to open a letter and read it. While this may be an indication of backwardness of Kenyan technology, for me it is a celebration of slowness. I had to learn the wisdom of taking a newspaper with me to the cyber-cafe and reading it as I waited for the pages to load. Oh the beauty of slow living! Slow should become the new fast. Have a slow day! (and really enjoy the slowness!).


One Response to “Embrace Your Inner Snail”

  1. calmerthanyouare said

    I spent some time in Paraguay in the 80s. Those people take it easy if I’ve ever seen anyone take it easy. Making appointments on time is not expected and their favorite thing to say to one another when asked “how ya doin?” is, “tranquilo no mas”.

    When we landed in Miami I had become accustomed to this slow pace and I was almost appalled at the rush and rudeness of American society…but I quickly adapted and now I’m rushing around like everyone else. Preach the slowness brother!

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