The beauty of living slowly

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The beauty of living slowly

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Let’s live slowly at least one day a week. This is my new rule of life. I cannot slow down at work, so I designated Saturday as “slow day” as I don’t have to report to work. Setting rules itself doesn’t suit the principle of slow life, but I made a set of minimum rules for the slow day. I don’t drive, don’t use the Internet, don’t watch television and eat two meals. They may sound trivial, but they bring significant changes to my lifestyle.

First of all, I get to walk a lot. I ride a bus when I am going far, but I would rather walk just about anywhere in walking distance. I normally take my car to the grocery store, restaurants and movie theaters, but now I walk there. As I got used to walking, the radius of action is getting bigger and bigger. One time, I walked nearly seven kilometers (4.3 miles) from my home in Ilsan to Mount Simhak in Paju. Including the mountain trail, I was on foot for five hours straight.

Now, I get to see things I didn’t notice before. In the past, my way of life was to get to the destination as fast as I could. I couldn’t afford to look around as I was stepping on the accelerator. I can now appreciate the flowers on the sidewalk, fields, farmhouses, schools, hills and cemeteries with my five senses.

On one of my recent slow days, I visited Buseok Temple in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang. Instead of driving, I took a local bus. As I was looking out the window and took in the scenery, I listened to music, ate some tangerines and read a book. The destination of Buseok Temple was good, but the journey to and from the temple was even better. My trips are no longer focused on the destination but the journey as well. By giving up speed, I gained much more.

The 74-year-old Frenchman Bernard, who walked the 12,000-kilometer-long Silk Road over four years, is visiting Korea to attend the 2012 World Trail Conference in Jeju, the home of the Olle trail. He said that walking is a spiritual action to look into yourself through the physical activity of moving your two feet. He added that the walking boom in Korea means that Korean society has entered a period that calls for self-reflection. Hiking trails are created on mountains around the country, reflecting the rapidly spreading walking boom.

It feels so good to put on a pair of thick socks and a pair of good-fitting sneakers and walk. Taking a walk three times a week, for more than 30 minutes each time, is a good way to prevent dementia. I am doing myself a great favor by deciding to live slowly at least one day a week.

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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