Slow down and enjoy an experience is one of our Indie Travel Manifesto values. It is there because, until you learn to slow down, you miss out on life around you. You need to stop, stop thinking about what you were just doing, what you need to do next, what you need to do now because you have stuff to do next week, etc. Which is why today for the 2015 Indie Travel Challenge we asked you:
You may fool yourself into saying, “I’m sitting in a cafe. I’ve slowed down!”, but how many tabs do you have open on your laptop and how many conversations do you have going in your phone? You haven’t slowed down, you’ve sat down. Big difference.
Not everyone knows how to slow down. I had no idea how to slow down until my first trip to Zagreb. I would pass the same man, sitting on the same benches in the park, at least 3 times each morning. He would be there for a few hours each day but I never saw him DO anything. My curiosity finally got the best of me, so I woke up early one morning to go to the park and see what it is he is doing.
Turns out – nothing. He was doing nothing. He was a master at the art of slowing down.
This morning, as I sat on a bench watching him, I decided I would only move when he did, and try to figure out why he was here each day. But no one showed up. Nothing amazing happened. He just sat on a park bench and watched. No books, no cell phones, no writing, no drawing, no talking to other people. Just sitting and watching.
After about 2 hours he moved – to a different bench, with a different view, and commenced with more watching. So I moved to a different bench and did the same. Four hours total I spent doing nothing.
Yet this stranger, whom I never talked to, taught me one of the best lessons in life: How to slow down.
Yes the first hour I wanted to smash my face against the cobblestone path out of utter boredom, but it was during the second hour that I started seeing. Actually seeing. Seeing the way the water hit the fountain, how people strolled along the park, who the pigeons would run to for food, the mix of colors in the flowers – all these little things I’d never noticed before.
By the end of this 4 hour journey into slowness I realized that slowing down is awesome! You learn so much, and see so much when you get out of your own little bubble and are able to clearly pay attention to everything else.
This is why we promote slowing down so much when you travel. You have to stop being the center of your own universe and before you can realize how vast and beautiful the world really is.