Image credit: pinkiwinkitinki, used under Creative Commons license.
From solar panels to electric cars to vegan diets, it's easy for us TreeHuggers to focus on technological and/or behavioral fixes for our environmental challenges. But sometimes the problems (and solutions) are more about worldview. As my colleague Jerry Stifelman and I wrote in our Slow Business Manifesto—and I revisited in my post about time as our most precious resource—one of the biggest things we could do for a happier, healthier planet is just to slow down. But how can we do that when everyone else is hell bent on moving faster? I just received a vacation response to an email that offers a tantalizing hint on how to do that—just hold your ground and be firm. This morning, as I was spreading the word about my post on what a vegan world would look like, I sent an email to a relatively well known author and eco-personality who has been outspoken on both animal rights and the need to live a simpler, slower life. Almost immediately, a vacation response message came back. Usually, I'd press delete, but as I opened it it genuinely made me stop in my tracks and think about how we live our lives. So I thought I'd share. [Dates and phone number blanked out for privacy purposes]:
I'm away from _______ to ________. I'm not self-loathing enough to try to respond to every email when I get back, so if it's important email me again anytime from the __th onwards and I will respond.
You can try me on __________ any time if it is urgent, but I don't think it will be working.
Now go ask yourself the question 'How many people can I make smile today?'. Now there's a challenge actually worth doing!
Slowing ourselves down is a worthwhile challenge. But it's slowing each other down that will really pay big dividends. Good on my anonymous friend for playing their part. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm stepping outside to enjoy the sunshine.
More on Rethinking Our Relationship to Time
Slow Business: A Manifesto for Reclaiming Our Lives
Is Time Our Most Precious Environmental Resource?
Living Simply: An Alternative American Dream?