The Right to Take it Slow

I recently read an interview* in which Olivier Saillard, director of Paris’ premier fashion museum Palais Galliera, said that he doesn’t answer his emails immediately but several days after receiving them. He likes to have the time to think through his replies, he said.

I’m impressed and slightly envious of his strength of character. Here’s a man who doesn’t buy into ‘quick’, despite being surrounded by it.

In our modern world, we expect answers almost sooner than we’ve asked the question. If I don’t reply to an email within a day, my correspondents get impatient. If I don’t answer the phone, my family thinks something has gone wrong. I receive blank stares of incomprehension when I tell people that I don’t have the internet on my smart phone. Friends are still getting used to the fact that I disconnect from everything (phone, emails, internet) on Sundays.

In a society that wants everything and wants it now, we feel pressured to follow suit. We feel old-fashioned, rude or weird if we don’t keep up with the modern pace. Despite the fatigue and overwhelm it causes, we continue answering to everyone and everything within the minute. We feel obliged to soothe other people’s impatience and anxiety by reacting as quickly as they expect it. In turn, we start feeling stressed and dissatisfied when we can’t work or react quicker. We feel as if we’re incompetent by not being able to function as fast as others would like us to.

gandhi quote

If the way things work in society don’t bring us well-being, we must stop buying into it. It doesn’t matter how others live, we must live for health. It doesn’t matter what others do, we must do what brings us peace. It doesn’t matter what others expect, we must have our own values. It doesn’t matter what others think, we must act in a way that gives us energy.

We have the right to do things slowly, to take our time, to block distractions, to call back later, to answer when we’re ready, to take a day off, to switch off, to be present in real life not virtual life.
We have the right to set our own conditions to the pace of our lives.
We have the right to make someone wait if it’s not urgent.
We have the right to ignore useless messages.
We have the right to short replies.
We have the right to reply later.
We have the right to not reply.
We have the right to delete.
We have the right to live by our own priorities.We have the right to say no.
We have the right to ignore.
We have the right to stop.
We have the right to put our own needs before other people’s desires.
We have the right to choose peace over pleasing.

If a premier fashion curator can give himself the luxury of taking his time, so can we.

Lao Tzu quote

Do YOU feel pressured to follow the pace of modern society?

*Interview with Olivier Saillard in Clés Magazine issue 85.

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11 thoughts on “The Right to Take it Slow

  1. Every time I step away from my desk, I am UNPLUGGED. I carry a cell phone for emergencies. And almost never use it. When our phone rings, I decide whether to answer or call back later.

    Slow is good. Rushed is unpleasant. Good thoughts, Polina.

    • I love that you decide whether or not to answer your phone. Good for you! In this hectic society, people get offended if we don’t answer the phone. Some people even say to me ” I called you. Why didn’t you answer?!” such a stressful question!

  2. I stopped immediately replying to emails because people expected me to act on whatever the message contained in an instant. I wasn’t controlling my own time. It’s nice to have it back!

    • Very true – for some reason people expect an instant reply and instant solution to their problem – they expect US to stop doing everything to answer them and cater for their questions. We need to remember how to be patient, accepting and .. how to prioritise!

  3. This is a really good post, and so true. We have a right…!
    I have to admit I get a bit pulled along into the “always on” hype! But I’ve come to realise I have to slow down a little, to remove some of the stress from my life! Your words hit me perfectly today. You are right, if a fashion curator can! So can I 😉

    • Yes, we tend to get sucked into the crazy pace of digital life, which, instead of simplifying our lives actually make them more complicated! That’s why I refuse to receive anything but calls and texts on my phone 🙂

  4. Pingback: The Right to Take it Slow | Simplicity 222

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