When I was in my early to mid-20s, I worked as a snag faller on a wildfire fighting crew. My friend and crew leader at the time, an extraordinarily quiet man named Cole who looks like a mix between Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York, those guys in Family Guy who lift large, triangular weights, and Paul Bunyan, used to have a saying: slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Cole lived by that. He did twice the work in half the time, but if one watched him work, he seemed to be moving at half the speed. His work was always impeccable, his manner always calm, and he seemed to get more enjoyment out of his work than most. I think that’s because he wasn’t working to finish the job. Instead, he was working simply for the pleasure of the job. Slowly, smoothly, and as a result, quickly.
It’s a saying that has various iterations: slow and steady wins the race, the lazy man works twice as hard, etc, and it’s something that Dan Malloy noticed on a trip in the fall of 2014. When he and his friends set out to bike and surf along 700 miles of California coastline, he found something interesting: “I learned more about the people and places here than I had in 34 years and a thousand trips by car,” he wrote. “Maybe slow really is fast.”
And he’s right. In our daily rush to get things done, we often miss the important bits, and the bits that seem meaningless can sometimes have the most meaning. Everything is fast now, from our phones to our internet to our transportation. We live in an age of instant gratification, and when gratification is instant, it’s short-lived and hollow. Anyone who’s done a trip like the one in the video above can attest that it can change your outlook on life. There’s a reason why sitting around a fire in the middle of nowhere with good friends feels better than staring at your phone for hours. There’s a reason why “escaping the rat race” is something we love to do: because we were never meant to be in a rat race in the first place. Slow Is Fast is a reminder that the really good things in life are never instant–and that the journey towards whatever those things are is often just as gratifying as the end result.