slowness timeless slow lifestyle
Photo by Trinh Le

In the age of instant re-tweeting of events and 2-minute noodles, I still prefer doing everything slowly. Eating. Walking. Learning. Breathing. Here’s why.

The English I speak, I learn it naturally from years of watching American shows like Friends, Charmed or How I Met Your Mother. I didn’t spend hours re-writing every new word a thousand times, nor learn concrete grammar and vocabulary from Effortless English or IELTS Essential. That’s why I wouldn’t mind opening a sentence with “and”, ending it with preposition, or ruthlessly splitting infinitives. But, at the same time, I can automatically feel the way native speakers would use a word, and let my sentences flow. My English shies away from phrases like “it remains to be seen” or “as a matter of fact”, and adopts the phrases I have repeatedly come across on TV or newspapers.

The Vietnamese I write, I learn it naturally from years of reading Xuan Dieu, Han Mac Tu and Vu Trong Phung, and listening to Pham Duy, Trinh Cong Son and other musicians. I didn’t learn it from books of “model essays” dictated by high school Literature teachers, nor deliberately copy proses written elsewhere. That’s why I can take pride in whatever I write. Good or bad, creative or cliche, it’s my prose, my voice, and my point of view.

I adore Zen masters like Thich Nhat Hanh for their peaceful state of mind despite the fast-paced environment we’re living in. They can take time to chew their food 50 times, or walk mindfully for 30 minutes. And still, they are not wasting their time. By doing everything slowly and mindfully, they let their inside Buddha shine naturally.

That’s why I easily get irritated (paradoxically) when being pushed by others, for no good reason. Either to finish a web page worth of content in one hour, or process a huge amount of information in a short period of time, I reckon that the effort is not worth it. The content I produce will not be good, the information will be pushed out of my short-term memory in no time, and everyone involved is in a bad mood when being rushed.

Why can’t people just understand that faster is not always better, and good things take time to grow and blossom?

Trinh Le


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