How fast is the speed of life?
My day job has always had a degree of flexibility in working hours, and whilst we have “core hours” of 10am to 4pm, as long as we work enough hours each period and our public service commitments are covered each day, you can pretty much start at 7am and finish at 7pm – or anywhere in between.
A couple of years back this flexibility increased greatly.
A few months into the COVID pandemic, our leaders started to realise we weren’t going to be back in the office in a couple of weeks, and a plan to provide everyone with mobile devices and the required infrastructure was gradually rolled out.
Being able to start work from home at 7:30, then finish at 4:15 to take my son to his trampoline class, with a school run or two in between, is something I couldn’t have done (or would have been allowed to) a couple of years ago.
Working from home, plus this greater possible range of working hours has significantly improved my work/life balance for the positive.
So the need for rushing has reduced, as the demands for me to be in a certain place at and for a certain time – tethered to the 9-5 -have relaxed.
But I still feel it could go much further.
There have always been concepts that have baffled me as an adult, like “rush hour”.
Why does virtually everyone who works in a retail or office based role need to start work at the same time, therefore clogging up the roads and overloading public transport, increasing stress and pollution all round?
Why not have staggered shifts so rush “hour” becomes a less rushed two or three or four hour period?
I recently read a fascinating book on trees, called The Hidden Life Of Trees.
Amongst many interesting revelations, the author tells us trees are often far older than we think. He suggests, in a round about way, that most humans are too impatient (and I wonder perhaps envious) of the long lives and incredibly slow yet steady incremental growth of trees to truly appreciate them.
We want it all and we want it now, how could we possibly relate to species where 200 years old is considered young, and that takes half a millennium to reach its prime!
Yet again I think nature has it right. Why all the rush? Why all the surface froth and noise, the unnecessary, the excess?
As a child I remember weekends on my granddad’s farm that seemed to last weeks, with no urgency to do anything.
For example, how he made (and then ate) a sandwich with such steady deliberation and care and pleasure, savouring every moment, enjoying the butter made with milk from the farm, and fresh cucumber and tomatoes from his greenhouse.
And now, with my own children setting their own (slow) pace of exploring and learning and growing, again with no pressure to rush or to be anywhere at certain times, I’m questioning the pace of life that most of us fall into again.
Many who take up (or rediscover) film photography say one of the main appeals is the slower pace.
With only 36 (and sometimes only 24 or 12) shots per roll, we’re encouraged to make each frame count, rather than the spray and pray approach possible with digital cameras, taking 36 shots of the same scene in seconds, with the intention of keeping the best shot afterwards.
But then being overwhelmed with just how many photos we took that day and not returning to any of them, so they join the growing mountain of forgotten images on dusty hard drives.
Fortunately, many of the pluses and lessons from my period of five years or so shooting film have carried over into digital again, including how many shots I make on each photowalk.
Once it would have been 100-200. Nowadays the same walk might yield 20.
Anyway, how about you? What speed do you photograph at? At what speed do you live your life? How have these speeds changed over time?
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