Hard work is on the agenda. Hardworking is good. Hardworking families are apparently the best kind. Aspiration is the word of the year, surely, if we did one of those word cloud things for 2015 – or chose a ‘Word of the Year’ as they are about to vote on in Japan – it would be standing out bold and proud and – well – aspirational. But is all this hard work and racing about any good for us?
You may remember that ten minutes hate, perhaps strangely for a website on the internet, has long been an advocate for switching off your electronics and gazing out at the world around you instead. We agree with Carl Honore, practitioner of all things slow, that it is better to be a tortoise than a hare. At the start of the summer, I read an article about slow parenting and have been trying to give it a go. I don’t always get the balance 100% correct, but building in time to slow down for whatever comes up has been fun. Long walks to nowhere, rainy day painting and (of course!) time lazing with a book are all as valuable as days out and play dates.
If you have read the second volume of Hunter S. Thompson’s letters, Fear and Loathing in America, you may recall that after the splash created by his first book Hell’s Angels, he pitched a follow-up on the American Dream. Envisaged as an assessment of how the dream was faring, instead he got bogged down in trying to read everything from periodicals to magazines cover-to-cover. He did produce a series of jaw-dropping essays but crucially, no book. Deadlines whooshed by in a manner very pleasing to Douglas Adams. This American Dream thing is driving me mad, he confesses in letter after letter, as he pours out plans and proposals, attempting to get a handle on it. Until he eventually ditches the whole thing and writes the relatively small yet perfectly formed Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The ultimate death of the American Dream story, right there.
We are in a similar state. It is impossible to see the wood for the trees in the forests of the internet. We kid ourselves that we can, but there is too much to be distracted by. All that remains is finding a focus, following what you love and trying to avoid clickbait wherever possible. Not to mention, turning it off every now and then. Now you have finished reading this post, we won’t mind!