Finding it hard to slow things down and simplify life a bit? Cuddle up with Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner and you’ll quickly find out you’re not alone.
Why is slowing down and living life a little simpler so hard? Shouldn’t it be easy? Or at least easier than juggling the chaos of an overstuffed life?
In her new book, Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path, Erin Loechner has a lot to say about this. After lots of ups and downs in her life, including a very successful HGTV.com show, a wildly popular blog, and a baby, Erin’s had plenty of opportunities to chase success. Despite all that, it’s simplicity she’s after, and her memoir shares much about her journey coming to realize that “slow” isn’t so easy to chase down.
Erin writes about the ebbs and flows of subtraction and addition to her life in a poetic rhythm, much like the style of her blog (to be expected, I suppose).
I appreciated all her thoughts and her honesty on the challenge of subtracting, cutting out the excess, not succumbing to the temptations of “chasing more” to fill a void that will never be full. Keeping life simple inherently feels like it should be easy. On the contrary, it’s not at all.
On Roaring Lions
Throughout the book, she discusses how challenging it can be to live more slowly. We all have lions, as she calls them, roaring in the background and always hungry for more. More money. More success. More of everything. The lion thinks more is always better.
“Settling” for simple is settling for less, and this leaves the lion hungry and unsatisfied. Pursuing a life of slowness and minimalism requires constantly quieting or ignoring the growling lion in our subconscious.
This analogy really resonated with me. I’m not a particularly competitive person needing to compare my lion’s satisfaction with everyone else. I do, however, like to pursue the many opportunities that come my way with my family, my work, and my hobbies. My lion has an insatiable curiosity, a passion for dabbling, a yearning to share love with my family, and desire to teach my boys everything. Those things alone could fill a calendar, not to mention the rest of the obligations I have like working and sleeping.
Chasing slow means we often tell that lion “no”. While this subtraction makes the day-to-day better, it doesn’t help our roaring lion situation.
On Contradicting Ourselves
At one point near the end of the book, she discusses social media (and particularly Instagram) as a one-dimensional image of ourselves, cropped and filtered to create a persona without hypocrisy or contradictions. In fact, though, we naturally have contradictory perspectives, opinions, and desires. Sometimes we act in ways that might not be consistent with our values or ideals. We aren’t always perfect, and we don’t always follow the rules (even our own rules).
This resonated with me quite a bit. Certainly my Instagram account is not a full picture of my life. It’s an edited highlight reel, and I haven’t intended for it to represent anything else. Like she mentions, I try my best to keep a consistent message on my account, not to contradict myself. But in real life, that’s not how it works.
Sometimes I buy cheap junk because it makes sense and it’s easy, even though I know when the cashier rings it up I don’t feel great about it. I occasionally buy things wrapped in plastic and use disposable flatware at fast food restaurants despite understanding that this really isn’t a responsible alternative. And honestly, I don’t beat myself up about it.
I mostly make conscious choices throughout my day, but I also believe it’s important to maintain a balance between conscious habits and convenience as well as the preferences of my family and friends when we’re together. I don’t intend to force my preferences on others.
In the end, I think better is better, even if it’s not in play every single moment of every day.
On Criticism For Contradictions
This internal struggle with contradictions and the appearance of consistency resonated with me for two reasons. Like Erin mention, I definitely have certain intentions related to Instagram and social media and, accordingly, limitations about what I share on those channels.
Also though, I occasionally receive criticism from others who challenge me on my intentions versus my actions related to sustainable living. They see me act in a way not consistent with socially responsible consumption or eco-friendly purchasing and give me a hard time for not following my own rules.
I get eye rolls and “I told you so’s” when I respond that I’m learning about and pursuing opportunities for better consumption most of the time, but I don’t feel it’s reasonable or sustainable to expect to stick to these ideals 100% of every minute of every day. After all, “better sometimes” is better than “better not at all.”
It really frustrates me that some people can’t appreciate or accept that we can contradict ourselves or not be perfectly in line with our ideals every moment of our lives. Especially when those ideals are inconsistent with many cultural norms and social standards that dictate how the world around us operates.
No one is perfect. But these critics don’t seem to appreciate that.
On Taming Lions
I have a lion. I try to tame it. Some days it works and other days, the roaring gets the best of me. I strive to keep that lion quieter and quieter as time passes, and I suspect practice might be a key to success. Time shall tell.
Do you have a lion? If you’re doing your best to ignore its roars, you may just find comfort in reading about Erin’s journey and knowing you’re not the only one bargaining with your beast.