Regent Street: it's amazing what you can see when you look up
I recently read a book called Night Work by Thomas Glavinic. The central premise is that a man wakes up to find he is utterly alone in the universe: everyone and everything has disappeared.
I must admit, I harbour this little fantasy sometimes - when I’m squeezing myself on to the Central line or fighting a procession of umbrellas down Oxford Street. But we humans are an interdependent lot and, as the book suggests, the idea of 'art' or ‘value’ disappears completely without audience or context.
I’ve been trying to apply the philosophy of this book to the world at large. So instead of cursing people and charging through crowds in a constant need for speed, I’m smiling and letting people go ahead of me. Rather than competition for a seat, I’m seeing them as just like me: wanting to get home, wanting the day to pass without incident.
Maybe this is the ‘Zen’ part of Slow Club that I’ve been hoping for. I’ve been sitting still a lot and paying attention to my breathing, just like I’ve been told. And on my way to the Leicester Square Theatre, to watch the hilarious (though very un-Zen) comedian, Richard Herring, I took time to look up - as was my Slow Task - and notice the sky and the tops of the buildings. Regent Street was transformed into something that rivaled a Parisian boulevard with its tiny turrets and twirls. I didn’t even notice the traffic.
I wanted to apply all this new-found serenity to my Slow Adventure - to spend time drawing a bit of London. (I chose Exmouth Market - it was nearest.) Unfortunately, I lasted 5 minutes: the cold got the better of me and I couldn’t quite get the dreamy, arty hang of it. It’s hard to resist the giggles with a sense of proportion like mine: I drew a man with arms that were down to his shins.
But it certainly made a nice, slow change to my usual lunch break.
Photo courtesy of Matt from London's flickrstream