The Slow Listening movement, if it can be called a movement, shares the spirit of the make-it-by-hand Slow Food movement and also Slow Art Day, which each year invites participants to visit a museum with a group of friends and commit to looking at only five pieces of art for ten minutes each. These initiatives share the belief that the self-conscious imposition of limits is the best way to live authentically in an age of boundless choice.
In all of these areas, it’s finding the balance that’s the hardest part: too much choice feels like anarchy while too many rules leads to tyranny.
Yes, a wise foolosopher once said that boundaries enhance creativity. The 47th chapter of the Tao Te Ching also said words to the effect that the world could be known by the sage without ever leaving the house. The way I like to interpret that one is in the sense that deep, careful attention paid to a restricted number of things is more rewarding than indulging in frenetic sensory overload.
By most standards, I’m confident that I’m a very boring person. I work a few different part-time jobs. My girlfriend and my dogs provide my regular companionship. I don’t like being away from home very often, or for extended periods of time, and when I am home, I’m usually reading, writing, watching soccer games, or puttering around doing chores. Viewed from outside, there would seem to be very little to recommend it. Yet bounded within the nutshell of that short description, I can count myself a king of infinite space. If anything, I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much I want to do and experience within such confines. Bonsai cultivation as a lifestyle philosophy, I’m telling you.