Go Slow, or: Decrease Your Life’s Pace

Context

The first time we saw this place… 17 September 1999. The symbolic date for the disappearance of “that” world. The Soviets entering in 1939, the fourth partition of Poland. The late summer, however, was sunny and warm. As usual for September, the green was changing its shade, growing pale, letting yellows and oranges take the stage. The sun cast long shadows on the grass and none of the surrounding nature paid any mind to historical parallels. The estate was rotting and sinking into the ground, but still it knew it needed us and did everything it could to enchant us. It knew that we’d use the tatters, shards and pieces to carefully put it back together, that we were “guardians of things”. We nurture and pay attention to that which has disappeared and continues to disappear every day. Both spiritually and materially. And that was the beginning.

We live slowly, or perhaps simply the way most people would like even though they can’t bring themselves to do it — freely. We like the Portuguese idea of pousadas — living heritage sites, which gained new, modern functions, often tourism-related. The place we chose (or rather the place that chose us) is slowly becoming such — as Antonio Ferro, the author of the concept of pousadas, wanted — “small hotel, which in no way resembles a hotel”. Of course, we remember to take the proportions into account — we don’t live in a Portuguese castle, palace, former monastery or stronghold, but in a small and unassuming Galician estate. It’s humble. This is our calm and quiet home, not one of the palace spas that have been appearing all over Poland. The world was created for the sake of the choice and the one who chooses (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov). Indeed, we are and want to be “guardians of things”. That is our lives’ mission. Still, there is a dilemma that accompanies this, most accurately described by Andrzej Stasiuk in “Wschód” (Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec 2014, p. 300):

When I moved here, it seemed to me like the air was full of ghosts and voices. That probably was the case. I wonder if the present will also leave some ghosts behind. […] Will someone stop here to look at what once was? In a hundred, two hundred years. And will the past still exist then? Will anyone need it to understand anything about their own life? It’s likely that there will only be the future. It wouldn’t surprise me. We will only long for future things. Only for what we dream up. Longing for the past will be eradicated. It’s simple. The brains will be different. We’ll only think about what more we’re going to buy. How we’ll please ourselves this time. There will be no ghosts, memories, remembrance or history.  Yes — there will be no memory and we’ll have to start from scratch every day.

Faster and Faster Still

Our urban lives, always hurried. Racing against time and always losing. Office — workshop — authors — clients — meeting — boardroom. Deadline — deadline — deadline. Łódź — Kraków — Warsaw. Train — car — road. Day — time — timelessness. Eating? While running. Sleep? Anxious. Holidays? Short. Friends? Over the phone.

STOP!

A Snail Will Still Have Time to Live Its Life

In a way — the snail was the start of it all. The start of the Slow Movement is connected to eating, protesting against fast food and founding Slow Food — a movement supporting traditional dishes, local recipes, celebrating the meals, protecting the flavour, healthy food. The snail became its symbol. Since then the idea of slow extended to other aspects of life, largely thanks to Carl Honoré, the author of the books In Praise of Slow, Under Pressure and The Slow Fix. Slow food, slow travel, slow free time (yes, free!), slow sex, slow parenting. Slow cities (there are now over twenty of them in Poland), slow life. Could slow be a new kind of stoicism?

To those who cannot believe that it’s possible to live like that I dedicate this funny paradox taken from a Carl Honoré book: Slow is the new fast. Come to Kwiatonowice, try it out.

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