No rush, no time
urgency speaks with ease:
I have not forgotten about this newsletter. Rather, I have been wondering how to begin and, lacking a clear signal, simply letting the question sit and stew over time. I had some ideas which I have drafts or little notes for, but all of them felt too formal, too staged. I am now more inclined toward waiting for a feeling to come, and acting then—in that moment—upon it.
Today, I had lunch with an acquaintance, a work friend. We talked about our projects (creative and political) with each other over food at Tekka Market. At some point, I said, “There is a lot of time. That’s another thing I learnt over the course of this pandemic. We have so much time.”
“But we actually also have no time, right?” she replied. “It’s also about balancing that, everything being so urgent. We have no time.” I’m paraphrasing her here, because what I remember about that moment is not the words but a tension in her voice. I straightened up, conscious that I might have pressed against something soft, that I had offended. For a moment I thought of apologizing and re-aligning myself with her, because of course—I see how urgent this all is. Despite my shift to a slower mode, I still act upon a logic of rabid urgency in preparing for the future we will make together.
The tension passed easily—and probably I picked it up so sharply due to my anxiety. Eventually I spoke a little bit about deep time and she asked questions about it, so I talked about how so many scales of time are simultaneously at play in the world, how a tree’s perception of time might expand our understanding of our own lives. It was nice to air these vast and boundless thoughts again. And in a way, we were embodying two scales of time ourselves, one more human and urgent, the other more nonhuman and glacial, but both co-existing, speaking to each other.
And so… how might I/we balance between urgency and ease, to mediate between temporal scarcity and abundance? I think a part of it involves seeing the simultaneous profundity and triviality of human life. To insist on a good life for all, while recognizing that the human species is, despite our drastic impact, merely a blip in the timespace of the universe. In that sense, to hold on and let go in a single gesture. I believe that an internalized awareness of this might be the key to slowness. And perhaps, where it is useful, it might help us answer the questions of how to live, how to act.
When asked about his pessimistic depictions of the world, Franz Kafka said, “Oh, there is hope, an infinite amount of hope, just not for us.” I do have hope—an infinite amount of hope—that we will build the compassionate and thoughtful world we dream of. And even if the human world ceases, the vast and boundless cosmos from which we sprung will go on, swirling energies until time and space themselves come to an end.