The Sloooowveld. The Lowveld’s other name. It rolls off the tongue when you say it slowly. Some people don’t like the name. They say it creates a negative impression about our area. I disagree.
That Slowveld feeling starts creeping in when you turn off the N4 onto the beautiful Schoemanskloof road, en-route home. The tension begins to ease out of your shoulders. You feel your body relax as the open road winds and bends its way through the mountains and orchards of citrus and macadamias towards Nelspruit. You feel yourself – slowing.
Life, I have found, will always bring us lessons if we are open to receiving them. Recently I had to negotiate 4 airports and 3 flights in order to reach the beautiful Greek island of Lesvos where I was joining a writer’s retreat for 8 days. On the way over I had a 7-hour stopover at Hamad International Airport in Doha. Landing just after 06h00, my flight to Athens was at 13h20 – 7 hours wait! The equivalent of nearly a full day at work. I hadn’t charged my phone since leaving South Africa and didn’t want to waste any more of the battery so it was switched off. (Only afterwards did I discover that you can actually charge your phone on the Qatar flight!) I couldn’t get into the “Quiet Room” for a nap as it was being cleaned. I was too tired to walk around this massive, slightly daunting airport, to find somewhere to charge it. Instead I settled down in a corner and watched the world go by. I watched people spending endless time on their phones, or wandering aimlessly around. In fact doing anything but just sitting. That relentless need to keep ourselves, our minds, occupied. Heaven forbid we just sit and “be”.
I had no phone to check on the time, there was no clock nearby to keep me updated with every passing moment. I couldn’t Facebook, or What’s App. No distractions. I was just in each moment. I was “in” time instead of chasing time or wishing time away. I wasn’t willing it to speed up or slow down. I was engaged with each moment. I journalled. I napped. I coloured a mandala. Got something to eat. I watched a large Arabic family gathered together on some of the chairs, laughing, joking, luggage scattered around them. Dark exotic looking men and their beautiful blonde wives.
Oh and bored looking children engrossed in their screens, or lying across the seats clearly wishing the time would go faster!
I people watched as travellers from around the globe arrived, left, airport staff whizzed around on golf carts, cleaners endlessly sweeping floors and dusting off chairs. Listened to a multitude of interesting foreign languages. Excitement, exhaustion, frustration, joy – all the emotions that pass through a busy international airport daily. Life passing by, only this time I was watching.
The morning went surprisingly quickly and before I knew it, it was time to make my way across to the departure gate for the next leg of my journey.
So often we find ourselves fighting time. We don’t have enough time. We run out of time. But if you think about it, time is just there. 86,400 seconds of it in a 24-hour period. The same for you and for me. The lesson for me that day was that the more I focussed on simply being in the moment, the less I paid attention to time and despite my expectation that the 7-hour stopover would drag on endlessly, it actually went really quickly.
We live in the “Slowveld” but how many of us really appreciate or even notice this slower way of living? So different from the fast-paced big cities.
It’s not about having time, it’s about making time. Big difference. It’s about being IN time. This moment and then the next. Savouring the experience, making memories. I learnt a valuable lesson in those 7 hours. Now to put them into practice. Here’s to Slowveld Life!