A frenetic pace cannot be sustained for long. A snail’s pace is rarely productive.
I can read quickly but some works pack many ideas into a few words while others present simple images that are best absorbed quickly. A trip to the museum will reveal many people taking a few seconds to pause and “consider” a masterwork, the intricacies of which cannot be absorbed in such a short time. A chief failing in our political system today is the demand that complex issues be fully considered in a sound bite; presidential debates have become farcical, with the candidates being expected to debate a dozen or more complex issues in sixty or ninety minutes, the amount of time a true debate would devote to one issue.
After thousands of years of history, humans developed science a few centuries ago. That science has advanced geometrically in recent decades.
For thousands of years, economies were local. A little less than two centuries ago, they began to become national, the nation itself having expanded its reach in most places. That phase of national economics, under which the economic edifice of the industrial revolution was built, lasted approximately 150 years. It has now been replaced by the phase of global economics, a phase that will endure unless new technologies allow a return to local or regional economies. During the phase of national economies and the industrial revolution, complex systems of finance and industry were established; many of them have become obsolete, and with their obsolescence has come the obsolescence of entire sectors of the old economy. Millions of people are already starving in the underdeveloped world. Unless we can adjust ourselves to the pace of change in our technologically advanced world, the same thing is likely to happen in the developed world.
The pace of life in this new world has not reached an equilibrium. Nations, societies and cultures have not agreed on norms and rules, as previous generations did in mandating a forty-hour workweek. In the United States, the disagreement has become especially bitter and ideological. Old assumptions may no longer make sense but many people cling to them anyway. Where this leads remains to be seen.
My father, who grew up plowing fields with a team of horses, left an indelible impression on me with one simple comment: “Never overwork your horses.” Each of us faces a choice about the pace of our lives. We are challenged to find a balance that is both productive and sustainable. We have little guidance from the economic order, which is changing too rapidly for anyone to make much sense of it. But we do have some guidance from within. If we have good values and are honest and self-empathetic, then at least we can find a pace at which we can function and be happy, assuming that the economic and political sea around us does not engulf us.
Technical and Analytical Readings
On the importance of finding a healthy balance between encouraging our children to achieve their potential and maintaining room to breathe and enjoy life:
- Madeline Levine, The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids (Harper/HarperCollins Publishers, 2006).
- Madeline Levine, Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success (Harper/HarperCollins Publishers, 2012).
- Paul Klee, Pastoral Rhythms (1927)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
The bossa nova
Stan Getz: bossa nova period:
Antônio Carlos Jobim:
- Rome concert 1983
- “Chega de Saudade” album
- “en Mexico” album
- In Buenos Aires, 1999
- “João Gilberto” album
Other jazz albums: