Location: Henri Montrose HQ
Truth to be told, a sense of slow can sound like something preserved in aspic. Something of a bygone era, when people still took their time to build Rome and had affairs to remember. Not something that comes to mind in today’s age of ‘fast, furious and first to like your post,’ where we build 280 character count sentences (or less), and rice noodles, a ride or a relationship are only a swipe away. Our last holiday in Bali showed how difficult it was for my friends and I to slow down. And if even the island of the Gods can’t make us stop and smell the roses (or rather, frangipani), one can’t help but wonder: has slow (and stillness, quiet, solitude, rest) flown the coop or can we still oversleep this weekend (without making to-do lists and scrolling through Facebook looking at photos of old friends at the same time)?
SOPHIE: My Indonesian mom easily incorporates the art of mono tasking into both life and work. As a Chef and entrepreneur, her diligence, patience, and attention to detail are as much part of her skillset as her knowledge and experience. It’s this combination of what made her one of the best in the world. I have memories of her eating cake in Vienna. She’d block out sounds and space, close her eyes and taste every single ingredient. For a long time I believed that she could defy the laws of physics and make time stand still. I on the other hand can sometimes find myself on a continuous attempt to juggle all my hats, experiencing time as my worst enemy.
KAT: This might sound strange but it feels like time has quickened in the last years. As a kid I felt that time wasn’t passing fast enough. Every experience, no matter how mundane, could be fully processed by my impatient self. Nowadays, I run from boardroom to lunch meeting while hearing myself say, “Where’d time go?”
A 2018 article I ran into recently, tries to answer exactly that question. According to Patricia Costello, PhD, a neuroscientist and program director at Walden University, our perception of time as we are experiencing it is indeed slower when we are very young children because children’s working memory, attention and executive function are all undergoing development at the neural circuit level. This affects how they perceive the passage of time. By the time we are adults, our time circuits are done wiring and we have learned from experience how to correctly encode the passage of time.
ME: Becoming a mom has made me much more aware of time’s ability to fly at high speed. I look at Poppy talking to Mr. Finch about the Queen of England over tea, or her walking around my office, giving her opinion about a pair of recycled sneakers to one my editors (“They’re made of garbage? I don’t think you have thought this through, Frank”), and I ask myself, “Wasn’t it only a second ago when I carried her chubby self around the city, and all she could say was baaa-baaa-baaaa?” Poppy on the other hand lives completely in the moment. To her an hour can feel like a lifetime.
SOPHIE: I feel the same with Parker. Maybe it’s because the world shows them something new, every day. Whether it’s an ant carrying a ladybug on his back, a vintage toy phone, or a new ice cream flavor. When we are children, we are constantly being introduced to new things and ideas that leave lasting impressions on our memories. As adults we’ve been there, done that and caught up in the everyday, experiencing new things is often at the bottom of our lists.
KAT: So…. Sky diving could slow down time? If that’s the case hand me a parachute and I’ll book us on the next plane out.
It actually is indeed the case that we gauge time by memorable events. Costello draws attention to the Holiday Paradox, also called the Vacation Paradox, a theory of time-perception. This theory unpacks the subjective experience of how time flies when you’re having an enjoyable, new experience like a vacation, but then later, in retrospection, it feels like it lasted longer than it really did. She adds that introducing novelty into your life when you can will make the memories stand out and stretch time in a way. A novel experience may feel like it’s flying by, but you’ll have a deeper impression of that time and unique memories tied to it that will give stretch and substance to that time gone by.
Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, neurologist, neuro-oncologist, neuroscientist and chair of the Department of Translational Neurosciences and Neurotherapeutics at the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center adds his note on “tempus fugit.” Remember your day as vividly as possible at the end of it. “Memory is short-lived and many of us just aren’t that engaged in the everyday things we’re doing, so if you slow down and engage more in the moment, and look back on everything deeply later, you may find time lasting longer.”
In other words…
May you add loads of novelty to your Summer holiday. And after you jump off that cliff, ride through the desert, feel the breeze from the basket of your hot balloon ride, taste new foods, talk to locals, enjoy the sound of different languages, dance to new music, meet new people, please sit down with a fresh mint tea, look back on your sensory overload, make your memories even more unique…. with a sense of slow.
Happy summer memories in the making!
Sophie wears: remi draped jumpsuit, Safiyaa.