Slow living and The Art of Hanging Washing

I’ve been filling the many hours of getting a small child to sleep with podcasts recently. I always have my phone with me, but after hours of continually pinging between social media sites, in the hope of finding something new to engage with, the little glowing screen in the dark can become irritating, to the point of wanting to fling it across the room.

After seeing a recommendation for the slow home podcast I’ve been catching up with their achieves and it’s led me to other material about slow and simple living. It’s such a hot topic at the moment, everyone seems to be doing it, but I’ve loved thinking about how I spend my time and live my life and whether it’s fulfilling me and feeding me in the way I want it to. I’m a little torn about the whole subject, to be honest. On the one hand I find listening to people talking about slow living soothing in itself and I can definitely see some changes that I can make which would help me feel less rushed and pressured. However, some of the navel gazing drives me bonkers and I can’t help feeling that some of it just cannot be anything other than smug and a little judgemental, however good the ‘Slow Movement’s’ intentions are.

One of the things that is mentioned, in various things I’ve heard and read is the how the pegging out of washing is a great example of slow living and this got me thinking about the whole topic, as I hung the washing on a cold morning, at 7:30am, to give it at least a decent chance of getting dry in a day. The example of pegging washing is usually given as a choice, a correct choice. By pegging out instead of using a dryer we are making the slow choice.

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However, I don’t have a dryer, just as many others don’t. So, what is it that elevates hanging your washing from a laborious chore to slow living? Is it the choice element? Surely, that would make slow living something for only the privileged, of which I include myself. It could certainly be argued that all of this is the realm of the navel gazing middle class, spouting forth about the simple life and living authentically, whatever that means. You only have to look at how searingly accurate SocalityBarbie is to realise how irksome this movement can be. When you are working difficult hours, juggling childcare and just trying to pay the bills, sourcing locally produced, organic bread, is not, perhaps on your list of priorities.

Slow living doesn’t necessarily have to mean not being busy and when you dig down a little, I think it is about a mindset, rather than what you do, or what you earn. Slow living seems to me to go very much hand in hand with mindfulness. Being mindful about what we spend our money on, thinking more conciously about how we spend our time or, in the case of hanging the washing, giving ourselves over to a task. So often, it seems to be one thing. The evil of screens and technology or cutting out sugar and clean eating. For me, this is too narrow a definition and far too prescriptive.

Slow living is not just what you do, it’s how you think. I can either hang the washing in a rush, getting it done as quickly as possible, but feeling pressure because I haven’t left enough time or I can make sure I do have the time and allow myself to feel what I am doing. Notice the temperature outside, hear the sounds, breathe in the fresh, morning air. Even in the depths of winter when there is no chance of pegging out, I can choose a favourite radio programme or podcast and listen as I work or involve Lady Mck rather than shooing her away, because I’m in a hurry.

I know there’s more to slow living than how you dry your washing and I’m learning that it means different things to different people, but I think it can so easily veer into the exclusive territory of the smug or the priveliged and that seems to be against its true intentions. We could all do with a little slow in our lives.

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