Learning to Slow Down in China

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday” as quoted from proverb, it’s a fair resource given to everyone and its one of the kind due to its diminishing and unstoppable nature.  So we should treasure every minutes of it and shouldn’t be too hurry as the time you saved had to be used up anyway. Just because we can opt for the quicker way, doesn’t mean that we should. We become fretful as we constantly compare with others afraid of being short changed.

Chinese had a unique perspective of time, we like to be faster and make a fuss about it and yet we can be patient at the same time; dashing across the expressway instead of using the overhead bridge to save 10mins, snapping tons of pictures at tourist attractions in a rush without taking the time experiencing the foreign cultures and scenery, cutting lanes recklessly to be ahead of others, creating a scene at the check-in counters over flight delays, yelling over the phone at the customer representative and on the other hand we are willing to queue for days for mega sales, booking of new property launches, waiting in line for 9 hours to take a peek at Saudi pavilion during the Shanghai Expo, standing for hours just to be served at a well known restaurant, it seems like one will only observe code of conducts in the presence of regulating authority.  

Prices soar the quicker one desires. Shrewd businessman seized the opportunity to cater for this needs; express priority check-in counter, direct flight, bullet trains are all catered for those who willing to pay the premium to be couple of hours quicker than others. We live in a capitalistic and materialistic society where people pursue materialistic comforts and economic well-being and we wanted it all; Instant success on the first business venture, marrying into rich and famous, jump the queue when the opportunities present itself. There are perhaps a couple of reasons why Chinese cant seemed to slow down and one perception of time determines their altitude towards life itself or vice versa.

As quoted “Death is nature’s way of telling you to slow down”, Majority of
Chinese had not really harbored thoughts of their own mortality and the only hard currency is whatever one can hang on to in this very life time. The massive progress disruption by political reforms and uncertainties in the 40s until 70s had also inflated momentum to make up for lost time and going all out in the pursuit of wealth, fame and power seemed to be justifiably common destinies for almost everyone.

Being fretful originating from the inherent instability of social structure, we are paranoid of being left behind by the society and always wanted to be ahead of others. There simply had little faith in the system for fair allocation as we are never given the autonomy and responsibility of being trusted or trusting others, everyone assumes one will take advantage of each other so long one is given the opportunities and likely getting away from it. Growing unease among Chinese on the increasing media disclosures of mega corruptions and scandals had compromised the perceived quality of daily lives and had led to escalating public discontents and many become aggressive in their own right to claim their fair shares and being the first one in everything becomes our second nature.

Last but not least which cover almost everyone is the obsessive nature of technology revolutions which enslave all of us with the availability of instant gratification leveraging our inherent craving of friendship, getting in touch and connectedness, social media networking and smart devices had glued us in an unprecedented way and we develop obsessive compulsive behaviors to have instant fix at all times. The capability had actually outpaced our practical needs and we grow to become intolerable for any unnecessary waiting and idling time and most of us had lost the built-in skills to just day dreams and wonders while waiting to be served, stopping in front of red light, sitting down at bus stop hoping the next bus carry your number, having a meal with colleague and family members without pulling out of our mighty gadgets to get “connected”, we had lost the face to face interaction tendency and the capacity to be patient.

In summary, with general sense of impatient keeps climbing in China. The strains on the cohesiveness and satisfactory living was beginning to tell with frequent intervention by authority on unrests took place scattered across the vast land of China. One had to make conscious decision to slow down deliberately. To tighten the inflow of media updates in the mobile-device era, self censoring one’s accessibility to them as they had taken its toll on meaning daily living as our limited time we worked so hard to save was lost again in the name of being ahead and more efficient. In addition, one needs to accept the facts that we are mortal after all and tackling life in slow lane has its own rewards bucking the trend of being faster simply for the sack of being faster. It’s no winning that matter, its taking part.



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