Moving Slowly in a Fast World

Pixabay: nandhukumar. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

The world feels fast: fast food, high-speed trains, supersonic planes. Tech companies move fast and break things. People want things now, resulting in instant Jell-O, instant messaging and Instant Pot.

I’m slow. I read slowly, write slowly, learn slowly. I’m thorough; detail-oriented.

This fault-line between my slow-motion style and the world’s fast-motion expectations sometimes leaves me feeling deficient, concerned I lack a societally-valued trait.

My discomfort intensifies when I try to learn something new. I plod through my learning while images of Neo from The Matrix appear, skills and knowledge insta-loaded into his memory.

I’ve wrestled with this aspect of my personality, being self-critical when I take too long to learn something, aching to speed things up.  Expecting something other than what is.

I took up partner dancing at 41 and met a woman who started dancing after I did. She leap-frogged me with her dance skills, and I was frustrated.  A fellow dancer told me, “it isn’t the years spent dancing, it’s the hours on the dance floor.” It was a valid point; I was dancing once a week; she was out at least five nights. If I’d danced more, I likely would have gotten better more quickly; but I also suspect she was more gifted and got aspects of dance it took me years to get. It’s one thing to learn dance moves; it’s another thing to actually learn to dance.

After 20-years of dancing I concluded, yes, I put in less floor-time than certain other dancers, and in dance, I’m a slow learner.  It was actually a relief to acknowledge it; accept it.

I took up meditating four years ago using the Headspace app. After a year of listening to 20-minute guided meditations 3 to 4 days a week, I switched to an unguided meditation; the guiding voice came in only at the beginning and end.  The shock of not having a guide caught me up short. My first thought was, “omg, I still don’t know how to meditate.  I can’t do this without a guide.  I’m so slow at learning this.”

Initially I was dismayed. Then I remembered my conclusion that I was a slow learner in dance. “Maybe,” I thought, “maybe I’m a slow learner in this, too.”

With that, I decided to be ok with my meditation progress. I saw my year of guided meditations as a year of meditating apprenticeship. It felt right; it was where I needed to be. It was how I needed to do it.

I like learning new things. It’s been good to have dance and meditation to reference when I start worrying I’m not learning something fast enough; they remind me that I learn how I learn. At my pace.  It’s a welcome countervailing voice to my inner critic.


Photo source: nandhukumar on Pixabay


8 thoughts on “Moving Slowly in a Fast World

  1. I never even tried to learn how to meditate. I do it my way.
    But I can totally understand how you can just learn to rely on the guide. It’s not that you didn’t learn. It’s because you didn’t focus on it. You just took it for what it was – there.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s good to understand that we all process the world a little differently. Acceptance of that comes with age, of course. I learn quickly, but I think slowly. That may seem contradictory, but that’s just how I am! I spent 20 years in Toastmasters and never did well with Table Topics, where you have to speak 2 minutes off-the-cuff. I need more time to think things through than others do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting distinction, learning quickly but thinking slowly. Table Topics well-illustrates the distinction; I usually did ok with Table Topics. I took forever perfecting my speeches and practicing them.

      I agree a lot of acceptance comes with age. I keep thinking my increasing acceptance is the meditation (which I do believe helps) but I suspect a chunk of my increasing ability to “chill” is simply getting older.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I admire anyone who tries anything new [that doesn’t involve harming yourself or others]. I figure it’s not how well you do it, it is that you tried. Didn’t give in to inertia. That’s a big deal in our world in which people [seemingly] sit for days without moving, glued to screens. So, good job, says I.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that reminder, about trying versus not trying. And being aware of the voices in my head that can get in the way helps me navigate the world better. They’re there, and…that’s ok.

      Thanks for the kudos. They’re nice to get 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Moving Slowly in a Fast World – Pointless Overthinking

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