Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Slow Gin and Other Stuff I Learn About In Bars, or How Process Can Help Us Calm the #%@&! Down

One night a week, I bartend. While I can't do any fancy bottle twirls (yet!), I have had the chance to hear my fair share of funny bartending, bar attending, or needing-attending-to-while-in-a-bar stories. Last night, I heard a pretty funny one: a new girl was working behind the counter a few years back, and one of the more experienced bartenders was hanging out and enjoying his employee discount. When a customer ordered a shot of sloe gin, the new girl grabbed the bottle of regular gin and proceeded to pour very slowly. (Ba-dun-chhh!)

While I'm not sure that "slow gin" tastes much different than its quickly-poured cousin, I do have a strong suspicion that the speed at which we go through creative processes makes a difference in the outcome. And I'm not the only one: artist Tim Slowinski (aptly named, good job Tim's parents!) started the "SlowArt" movement in order to combat our increasingly accelerated "fast food" way of observing and consuming the world and making art:
"Art is a way of life, a method of being, a way of perceiving the world."  
It was this concept of art, not only as a process of creating objects, but as a way of life and perception that was to become the basis of SlowArt. Essentially, under SlowArt, the life process itself is a devotion to art, all life energy is directed and focused as an expression of art. In a SlowArt life, activity that appears unrelated to art is engaged only as a support structure for art. Art is not an occupation under SlowArt, it is a vocation and devotion. (
Read all about it here. And it's not just for the artists -- art itself can observed and consumed using the SlowArt principles, which has in turn led to the creation of Slow Art Day, an annual event where participants are invited to deliberately and unhurriedly interact with a select pieces from a museum's collection, before spending a lunch together discussing and exploring their experiences in greater depth.

In fact, it's not just for the traditional confines of "art," either -- the Slow Movement can be applied to almost any creative process -- whether cooking, or parenting, or watching a movie, or taking a vacation, or doing a scientific experiment. Its core principle of "Slow" instructs us to resist the urge to rush past what we're doing and get twenty bazillion thousand other things done just because we can, and instead spend that time focused on the moment at hand, allowing ourselves to be fully present and open to receive the experience.

Sounds good, right?

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