17 Nov 2013
DID I JUMP OR WAS I PUSHED?
Having read In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore a number of years ago it struck me that is spite of my best efforts my life was being experienced at a speed which not only was not conducive to the real experience of aliveness, happiness and living, but was in fact, also pretty destructive in terms of health, well-being, work-life and relationships.
You can check out In Praise of Slow here.
The tragedy was that even though intellectually I appreciated the philosophy of mindfulness and being in the now, being part of a 21st Century urban landscape meant that it was pretty difficult not to get caught up in the wirlwind, cram-it-all-in lifestyle that I was leading. I was, however, forced to STOP when my body simply said 'NO more'! No more multiple projects. No more 19 hour days. No more task lists of 125 items in a day. No more 7 day weeks. No more missing family occasions in the name of 'too much to do'. Not only did my body virtually give up all movement but my brain became enveloped in a slow fog which made it difficult to grasp my train of thoughts. Each word was enveloped in its own individual fluffy cloud with no relation to the next. It meant that my love of reading came to a halt as I could not get to the end of a short paragraph in which I could comprehended what the chain of sentances meant.
So I was forced to embrace SLOW in everyday activities. It meant experiencing all mundane activities in a very different way. It was as though I had to re-learn how to live with much more presence. Walking very slowly forces you to think about the myriad of interconnected actions needed to lift one foot from the ground, manouvour it forward, leverage and balance your weight before taking the second foot off the ground. I'd taken walking for granted since the day I was 9 months old and took my first step. I imagine that even then my very young mind placed a 'tick' next to the task as accomplished and thought, 'OK - what's next?'
It has been a number of years since that first experience of ME. Since then I have engaged in a few big 'projects' (including the launch of a small London restaurant chain) but I am more mindfull of simply being, rather than doing.
SLOW IS THE NEW BLACK -;
Cock & Bull Menswear is just over 18 months old. Phil & I had a clear idea about wanting it to be an organically grown brand and business but it has nevertheless, resulted in some intense days (and nights) which is why 4 weeks ago I sought out a retreat deep in a valley in South Devon which allowed me again to STOP and be PRESENT.
The Sharpham Estate, Totnes, S Devon
My opinion is that if we take things at a slower pace, not only is my personal life better but business is better too. Contrary to the current business paragdigm for fast information, fast decisions, fast routes to market, fast deliveries, fast responses, fast turnarounds... the question remains: Does it make our life BETTER? Or are we simply driven by fear? A retreat is a holiday from fear as much as a holiday from the world. Retreating from work-based tasks and communication (via phone, tablets, laptops, radios, conversation) meant that I was with ME experiencing the simple joy of aliveness and being.
I returned to the hustle and bustle of London Life but have managed to remain centred for the last 3 weeks. Yes the new collection for A/W 14 is well underway and there are timeframes for showing in the New Year at various trade shows but just as a seed cannot be forced to germinate, the beauty of the creative process cannot be rushed. It is beautifully, wonderfully slow. So I'm truly enjoying my exploration theme, musing, playing, reading, surfiing, sketching, reading, napping! We haven't committed to showing a S/S 15 collection - it may happen, it may not. It may happen as a 'limited edition'. Phil and I are not tieing ourselves to any decisions, rather preferring to feel out if it is right at the time. Granted this is not the way the fashion world works but that is why we do not consider ourselves a 'fashion brand' and it is the way we have decided our sustainable menswear clothing line will work. It ensures that every stage of the creation and production is within a space of CONTEMPLATION & APPRECIATION; giving value not only to the product but to the people who produce the product.
Cutting Waistcoat from Hand-woven Scottish Tweed
So as we move into the long winter season, walking to the Cock & Bull Studio I'm watching the leaves fall individually from the branches, before being pushed across the road by the velocity of a passing car and landing in an oil-strewn puddle in the middle of the streat appreciating that it is all part of my slow day-to-day existance and one that is worty of a expressionist eye to capture it all.
Slow and steady regards.