When I stopped at the art museum for a couple of hours on New Year’s Eve day, I had chapter 1 from Ann Kroeker‘s book, Not So Fast, in mind. I remembered her story from “What Are We Missing out On?” of her family’s hurried tour through the Louvre in Paris so they could see all of the great art. When they rushed passed several other da Vinci paintings just to be in the same crowded room as the Mona Lisa, her kids were less than impressed. “That’s it?” they asked.

So, I when I visited the Indianapolis Museum of Art that afternoon, I decided to look at just one painting well, rather than rush through the whole museum. Since I had been there several times before, I chose one that had caught my eye earlier, “The Flageolet Player on the Cliff” by Paul Gauguin.

I sat there looking at the painting for a very long time, the flageolet music playing through the museum sound system in the room just off to my right.

I jotted down the details of the date and location of the painting. I reflected on the colors and the composition. I noted the movement of the cliff and the wall and the village in the back ground. I meditated on the themes of immanence and transcendence in the near and far objects.

And then I got in trouble for using a pen in the museum. So the security guard loaned me a pencil.

Slowing down and being intentional with my time doesn’t always go as I plan. Just when I think I have drawn careful boundaries around my life, a family crisis happens or I get a new puppy :), and my time is suddenly filled again.

I can see how this could be almost impossible with a husband and children. Each person’s schedule competing with the schedule of the family as a whole. But for a single person, there’s a whole different issue at stake. Not planning my schedule and filling my time means I am home alone.

Granted, I stay busy enough that I appreciate quiet time at home. Most days. But there are plenty of times when I am out for dinner several nights in a row or I have too many weekly meetings than I would prefer, but the alternative of being home by myself seems even less appealing.

Living a slowed-down life as a single person often means choosing to be alone. It also means learning to be ok with my alone time by being more intentional with my activities. I don’t want to fill my life with too many activities with strangers — i.e. time at the gym or shopping or coffee shops — or activities with friends in which I am not making connections — going to movies, concerts, shows. I also need to be careful about involving myself in too many circles of acquaintances in which I am with different people all the time and never able to go deep or get involved.

Instead, I am trying to chose fewer, better things that are deeply fulfilling and allow me to make connections and serve others, so that my time at home alone just means I am slowing down, not lonely.

In her “Slow Notes” for Chapter 1, Ann suggests slowing down with some of the following ideas:
  • Go outside and look at things with a magnifying glass: a snowflake, tree bark, an insect
  • Sketch something, paint something, create art that takes your full attention
  • Write a poem based on a detailed observation
  • Take a trip to a museum and stare at something beautiful
And may I suggest that you take a pencil, not a pen.

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For more slowing down resources, visit Ann’s Not-So-Fast Links. Here, she highlights blogs, books, articles and websites centered on slowing down.

Rendering of painting linked from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.