Thursday, May 15, 2008

Strange New Ideas

A friend sent us a story of someone visiting Sweden. He said that while working for a big software company a friend would come and pick him up from his hotel every morning, early. They would arrive at work, and look for a park in an enormous parking lot. Because they were there early he would have plenty of parking spaces to choose from.

So each morning the Swedish guy driving would park in a place far away from the building, leaving them a 15 minute walk to the office. After a couple of days the visitor asked, 'why, if they take the trouble arrive early do they park at such an inconvenient distance?'. The Swedish guy replied "well, since we arrive early, we have plenty of time to walk to the office and not be late. But for people arriving late, it is better for them if they can get a park closer so that they don't have to walk so far".

This kind of logic keeps messing with my head. This is not the most efficient way to run your life ( or is it?), but somehow, of course, it makes sense. Perhaps because life is compartmentalised too much -- commuting to work is not (usually) a designated 'exercise' time, so like, walking when you don't have to seems like a waste of time! and also, why help someone else out at (an apparent) cost to yourself... Wow, are we so geared to valuing work above almost everything else...?

I often ask myself what I mean when I decide I don't have time to walk to uni ( it is like a 15-20 minute walk), seriously, there is no-one waiting for me but my inbox. So why don't I want to 'waste' those precious 20 mins of 'work' time. I have to make myself walk up the hill.

Just for the record, I usually do end up walking (mostly because driving a ton of metal 1 km, then paying for parking is beyond ridiculous).

Have you heard of this kind of 'slow' living before? Is it part of your life?


Blogger Catalin said...

Yes, but I don't usually think of it in terms of helping other people, like the Swedish guy. I really like that.

Back in the dark ages when I was at college and had to drive, I always parked far away, partly to avoid the hectic energy that always emanated from all the people panicking and trying to find close-up parking spaces.

I've never liked the things in my life to be too crunched up against each other, so I usually allow for lots of time in between scheduled activities. Time to mentally change gears, I suppose. I often choose to walk instead of riding my bike because I like the slower pace which seems to allow more time for thinking and also for just observing the world around me.

This past semester I sometimes walked 45 minutes each way to campus instead of riding my bike. It felt kind of indulgent to me, but I never regretted it.

I think we all have different rhythms at different times of our lives and in different aspects of our lives as well. I remember literally running from the front to the back of the grocery store where I worked because I just couldn't stand feeling like I was wasting time. I think speed has its place, as long as it's not accompanied by frenzy, panic or anxiety. However, for me, I know I need built-in slow time or "down" time.

Thanks for sharing the story. I really want to think more about how I can do little things to help strangers. It's nice to try to think of ways that doing what I really want could help someone else too!

9:58 am  

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