“The successful man leads where others follow, persists where others give up, speaks softly while others may shout, listens when others may…

“The successful man leads where others follow, persists where others give up, speaks softly while others may shout, listens when others may not, and lives from both his head and his heart.”

These thoughtful words came without the writer’s name, so I cannot give credit. A gift to us all.

The good old days …

In our case we ate beans from the can on hikes, food was slow and came from pots and pans on coal fed stoves and eaten at the kitchen table.

Bread and biscuits came from the oven; a roast of beef on paydays once in awhile, or when company was coming, topped the family menu.

Coal came from dirt basements in pails kids complained weighed a ton. Car rides, if Dad had a car, were on weekends. He walked to work. Cars had flat tires too, often. You fixed them, usually there and then. Two-wheel bikes had one speed — you. Most folk ate fresh veggies from gardens dug with a garden fork and harvested the same way. Families with black thumbs, and an extra buck, had veggies brought to the door from river valley gardeners. A penny bought a treat, and we didn’t kick pennies into the gutter as they do today. Daily life was your exercise machine. The world outside your door was your rumpus room and recreational complex combined.

Money was as scarce as hen’s teeth sometimes; stress was abundant. “Where will the next dollar come for food for tomorrow?” kind of stress. Palpable life-threatening stress kept a lot of moms and dads on edge a lot of the time.

They were busy though; as busy as today’s with mom at home more often than not. Three, four, even six or more kids were enough to do to keep two moms and a couple of girl guides busy, though moms managed.

Time? Well, time was a friend. Time to visit, to wander, to daydream, or to people-watch. People-watching was almost a hobby. A car ride with someone often meant parking on the main drag, or at the railroad station, or the new airport, watching.

Nobody said life was slow, though looking back from an electronic millennium they sure do. These old days are seen as “backwoodsy”:

“Why a lot of people didn’t have phones, ice-boxes not fridges, they used wringer washers, some were even peddle powered, and that’s just for openers. Can you imagine? Who would ever want to go back to those days?”

Enter the Slow Movement!

The Slow Movement was formed to address the modern issue of “time poverty.” Their words, not mine.

 “We are,” their website says, “engaged in constant fast-forward motion whereby we are often overscheduled, stressed and rushing towards the next task. This rushing is not restricted to our work environment. We rush our food, our family time and even our recreation.

Stress is leading to unprecedented health problems. “Stop the world, I want to get off” is a feeling we all have sometimes.

 “Have our labour-saving technologies really given us more time to enjoy life as is their claim? Why is this happening? What is wrong? What are we searching for?”

They answer their own question: “We are searching for connection. We want connection to people — ourselves, our family, our community, our friends, — to food, to place (where we live), and to life. We want connection to all that it means to live — we want to live a connected life.”

It sounds as if they want to step back in time to something like the good old days they’ve been demeaning for so long. Imagine, if these Slow Movement advocates are successful, their efforts could splash over into our halls of power.

Imagine a return to the good old days of parliamentary decorum and debate, where men and women of integrity agreed to disagree, act responsibly, even become accountable, and bring an end to recent examples such as our current addle-pated  Dog Days of October, and other shameful examples.

Harry Truman’s admonition is worthy of consideration by all the recently elected, and those soon to be: “If a man, or a woman, can accept a situation in a place of power with the thought it is only temporary, they come out all right. But when they think they’re the cause of the power, that will be their ruination.”

I live in hope, and I sure hope Einstein is wrong, don’t you? He said, “Only two things are infinite — the Universe and human stupidity, and I’m not so sure about the Universe.”

A tip of the hat to the return of some of the good from the good old days, and the people who made them so, and yes, Virginia, I believe in Santa Claus.