Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
    Volume 10 |Issue 03 | January 21, 2011 |


 Cover Story
 Human Rights
 One Off
 Writing the Wrong
 Star Diary
 Book review

   SWM Home

Writing the Wrong

An Ode to the Sloth


I am going to share my current facebook status with you. I am not proud of it, but this is what has been plaguing me and that is why, narcissistic fool that I am, I posted it as my status and will now share it with you, patient readers. The status for today is as follows: Slow is GOOD. Slow is my friend, slow loves me.

As of this morning, I got five likes and four comments. Not a bad haul, overall, for my own thoughts. I tend to take it personally when people trot out yet another quote by Paulo Cohelo and get 45 ecstatic comments and thumbs up on THEIR genius inspiration that led them to quoting SOMEONE ELSE, and I get barely a glance for sitting there and attempting to formulate something approaching a philosophy or set of ideals. Don't get me wrong, I consult The Alchemist regularly when I am in one of those moods. I also have a friend who's daily inspirational quotes she culls from others truly inspire me. But that is because she is not a poseur or pretending to be a decent person and masking her pettiness by quoting Cohelo. It is obvious I, a seemingly grown woman, spend too much time on a site that is actually eroding human intimacy and turning an entire generation into people who are barely present in their relationships. Who “text in” their emotions and commitments. Yes, well, I am nothing if not impressionable.

But I digress. This is my problem, which is essentially society's problem as well. I move too fast. I want everything NOW, or five minutes ago. I rarely allow myself time to process emotions, thoughts, ideas or reactions. My personal life has been one prolonged attempt at breaking the sound barrier. This started in second grade with Shane Coty, the cutest boy in class, 'snaggle toothed' wonder that he was. I marched up to him and told him he was now my boyfriend. When he did not respond at once and appropriately, I did the only sensible thing I could think to do: I stomped on his big toe and called him a 'poopie head'. He started crying and then told on me. I am dismayed to tell you, that at this ripe age, one: my approach has not changed much, and two, neither have the subsequent reactions from those lucky enough to garner my ardour. So I am thinking that maybe I need to change my approach. And not just in my personal external life, but my inner and creative lives as well. I meditated on it and the only word that kept popping up was SLOW. I guess I know what that means. I am just not sure I know how to do it.

So I researched one of the slowest creatures in the world: the sloth. The sloth lives in the rain forests of South and Central America. It is a herbivore and a mammal, like Natalie Portman, though she is apparently a vegan and is originally from Israel. It is a docile creature in the extreme and spends much of its time languidly hanging from trees, protected under the thick, lush canopy of the rain forest and leisurely masticating berries and buds it plucks from said trees. It also spends a great deal of time sleeping by hanging upside down to disguise itself from predators, who mistake them (lord knows how) for large leaves or foliage. It is a creature that is not quick to panic, and when it is trying to elude predators it can only move at 13 feet per minute in the trees and only 6.5 feet per minute on the ground. It cannot survive outside its natural habitat but is perfectly adapted to the rain forest and is considered one of the more successful species dwelling in an increasingly threatened environment. Its slowness, which stems from its incredibly slow metabolism is a contributing factor to its success. There are some disadvantages to being a sloth, to be sure, but only if it leaves its home.

This is what I do when I am confused: I look at the natural world because there are times when I can see I am inhabiting a clearly unnatural one. Events, both those that are seemingly far removed from me and more immediate, can cause my thoughts to start racing. However, when nature starts going haywire that can be very frightening-- like all the birds that were falling dead from the sky in various parts of the world, and all the fish that floated up dead in Brazil. That made me think the Mayans, who predicted our collective demise in 2012, might have been on to something.

That little girl is gone, let her not have died in vain. Let us not “invade Iraq” so to speak. Let us process what has happened and not point fingers.

Because I do not stay in one physical environment all the time and am traipsing between various work, and personal situations, I need to cultivate an internal slowness that remains stalwart in ANY environment and allows me to survive with most of my extremities intact. This is entirely up to me. I cannot control what other people do. Events in Tucson, AZ, where Rep Gabby Giffords was shot in the head and a tiny girl lost her life at the hands of a mentally deranged shooter, have proven to me AGAIN that too many external forces are at work here. I simply have no control over the majority of what happens to me or others. All I have control over is how I react to these forces. This is what President Obama essentially stated in his recent speech regarding that tragic day. We had no way of really controlling what happened but how we choose to react to it at this point is what is imperative. That little girl is gone, let her not have died in vain. Let us not “invade Iraq” so to speak. Let us process what has happened and not point fingers. I only wish the GOP would take the same approach.

When something like this happens, people have to allow themselves the time to take stock. Perhaps if, we, as a nation, knew how to do that, Giffords might not be lying in a hospital bed and that child would not be lying in the ground. There is a great deal of action, and active vitriol being spewed from both sides of the aisle in Congress. I cannot help but think this was a contributing factor to what has happened and what will continue to happen if we do not step back and arrest this lack of meditation and mindfulness. So, all I can do myself, is slow down, so I do not contribute to the melee in ANY way. I urge you to do the same: take a moment, hang upside down from a tree (metaphorically, please), embrace that inner sloth and you will most likely be highly successful in your natural habitat.

PS. In reference to my last column: reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.



Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2010