The Art of Going Slow

“When we rush, we skim the surface, and fail to make real connections with the world or other people.” Carl Honore, a Canadian journalist wrote the international best-selling book, In Praise of Slow. So, he knows.

As does Mario Rigby, who took two years — two years! — to walk and kayak the 12,000 kilometers from Cape Town to Cairo in, what would become, the first of many self-propelled explorations around the world. By his account, it was a true test of human endurance. But it was also an opportunity to learn — about the continent, its people, and himself.

“The drive for curiosity and exploration is vanishing in today’s fast-paced and digital world,” said Rigby. “I think unlike past generations, more people are hesitant to venture out and meet strangers. We are all filled with unimaginable potential — perhaps my adventure will inspire others to move away from their comfort zones and unleash theirs.”

I learned about Mario during a kayak tour on the Sengekontacket pond on Martha’s Vineyard. Our tour guide, Liam, took us to see things that are otherwise inaccessible. We kayaked out to a bird sanctuary where oyster catchers, these beautiful small birds with bright red, iron-rich beaks, basked in the sun. They are an endangered species. As were the osprey, fish hawks that are now flourishing on the island because Gus Ben David, a former director of Mass Audubon’s Felix Wildlife Sanctuary had the genius idea to use telephone poles to hold their gigantic nests. What was once a dwindling population of two nesting pairs is now well over 100. And there are currently 255 active and inactive osprey poles and nesting structures throughout the Island.

Liam took us to the far banks of the pond to see the Living Shoreline project, an initiative that is designed to restore the eroded salt marsh. It was heartening to see the new shoots of grass along the marsh — a sign that the project is working.

Mario’s story — and Liam’s tour itself — served as an important lesson on the value of going slow. We’ve visited Martha’s Vineyard before (some of you have probably heard me describe it an “my happy place”). But, our self-propelled means of travel this week — both kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) — allowed us to gain an entirely new perspective. It was impossible to miss all of the things that go whizzing by when you’re moving fast and doing other things.

When you choose to go slow, you can:

  • Take in every detail, enjoying quiet, long moments just watching, listening, and learning.
  • Capture insanely beautiful moments (like this sunset), regardless of your photographic skills.
  • Learn a lot about yourself as you tune out all the noise and your own thoughts keep you company.
  • And, perhaps most important of all, slow down — physically and mentally. Something I desperately needed.

Listen, I know I’m one to talk. Most of the time it feels impossible to slow down, especially when you look at our workload and the expectations sitting in front of us. But I think the advice — go slow — when and if we can apply, is beyond sound. It’s not about doing things faster. It’s about doing things better and appreciating the journey.

We all deserve to appreciate the journey.

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