There’s this idea of modern society moving faster and faster. And certainly, it feels like that a lot of the time. 2020 has already been a couple decades long and it feels like it’s just getting longer every day. And it’s not just the news. Hustle culture is very real. I am a part of it. I’ve got a fairly successful career in IT but here I still am, trying to make a second career as a writer happen. And because all of that is clearly not enough, and Mad Writers’ Union is on indefinite hiatus, I’m planning to start up a YouTube channel. Let’s just say that being poor for a significant chunk of one’s teenage years has some lasting consequences. But also, I really like doing all these things.
But at the same time as I’m working on the two-to-four careers simultaneously, I find myself slowing down in other ways. I’ve talked about my attempts at making my own clothing multiple times and multiple ways. Suffice it to say that effort is still very much going on. I’ve been making bread for forever, but I’ve also been making sourdough bread since around Easter 2019. I’ve been using a Chemex to make my coffee for years.
Last year I also planted some chilis. I started too late in the season, but I did manage to get a little bit of produce from one of the ones that actually survived seeding. That trooper almost died this summer, but eventually pulled through and is now producing another massive harvest. I’ve also managed to seed three offspring and saved a whole bunch of seeds to make more next year. But I’ve also branched out. Right now, I’ve got cilantro, small leaf basil, six chili plants, and two tomatoes. I’m hoping to increase the number of tomatoes I’ve got for next year, but that’s a matter for February. I also want to start growing more herbs over the next year. I live in an apartment building in the middle of a major city, but that doesn’t have to mean that I can’t grow at least some of my own food.
It’s interesting, in some ways, as I get older, I’m trying to make things go faster and faster. And in other ways, I’m trying to slow down to compensate. Being able to cook food where at least some of the ingredients came from our own stores is somehow a relief. When we started using the Chemex, as opposed to the machine, it felt like an interminable wait. There are so many more steps to the Chemex process than there are to the machine process that it was definitely an adjustment. But somehow, it has turned into a ritual. That first bloom of the coffee grounds as you pour the first half pour is glorious. It’s well worth the wait. So is sourdough. Ultimately, it requires a lot less effort than you think the first time you make it. The slow process becomes the norm.
So far, the same has held with everything that I’ve decided to take the slow path with. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that part of it is to do with the slow path itself. Of course my sourdough is tastier than your average white bread, just by its very nature. But I also think my sourdough is tastier than pretty much any sourdough I’ve ever bought. So it’s not just the nature of sourdough, part of it is the process itself.
I get to make my bread just like I want it. A lot of bakers and bakeries especially, have a tendency to liberally put flour on top of their breads, and I don’t like it. I also don’t like it when it’s cocoa on tiramisu, or powdered sugar on tippaleipä. And being able to customize to my taste is one thing, of course it is. But there’s a satisfaction to knowing that you made something. To understanding the amount of work that went into something.
It is a fast-paced world, and not everything is worth slowing down for. I will never give up my robot vacuum. And not everyone has the luxury of slowing down in the same ways. But some things are worth the wait and the effort.
What are you slowing down on, dear reader?