Opinion: Be part of a slowing trend
THE indie folk duo the Milk Carton Kids hail from California and were the star bill of the recent Bellingen Winter Music Festival.
While performances at big events like these are normally full of loud noisy people and even louder instruments and vocals, the approach this outfit took demanded silence and patience, something you rarely see at hyper gatherings where alcohol and entertainment come together in concentrated doses.
It was refreshing to witness a town hall filled with white noise from competing conversations die down to complete silence thus be exposed for whispering to your neighbour. They certainly weren't going to raise their voices, nor play any louder so the pressure was on the room to take a chill pill and basically sit still and shutup for an hour. But it wasn't hard because they were mesmerising. And if someone was struggling, they'd cop a "are you right there" from up on stage.
The Grammy nominated duo are exceptional musicians both instrumentally (two acoustic guitars) and vocally (poetic harmonies), and have been giving a whole new generation some understanding of how acts like Simon and Garfunkel and The Righteous Brothers were so captivating despite the lack of voltage and flashy effects surrounding them. It was raw and understated, but it was perfect, and the audience had to adjust its behaviour to appreciate it.
The unusual festival experience was a reminder of just how accustomed we are to having seemingly everything in our environment louder and faster, from our entertainment to our kids' activities, our food and holiday experiences. These days unless you are going at it from dawn til dark you really aren't living. The cycles we find ourselves in are heavy on the work and play, the rest part gets a look in occasionally.
If you ever mention you are holidays the first question that follows is usually 'oh where are you going'. And when you respond 'nowhere' the confusion is customary. A stay at home holiday is rarer than an overseas one these days.
When you do venture out for one you tend to spend the whole time racing around trying squeeze as much in as possible, often feeling the need to tag another week on the end just to recover.
The pace and noise picks up substantially more if you have kids in tow. Are they getting louder or just being more public about it?
And what's with all the after school activities. Is there some sort of competition to see who can squeeze in the most stuff? Do they really need to play three different sports, learn the violin and how to sing in between dancing and karate lessons. The new ABC program Frantic Family Rescue kicked off on the ABC last night, the concept of assigning a slow-movement ambassador to help reduce the pace in which the modern family operates, highlights the growing societal trend that doing more is better than doing less.
Unfortunately while our workforce and society is geared towards a faster, louder way of life and in order to go places, whether that's up the corporate ladder or Timbuktu, the velocity and octaves in which you seem to have to operate somehow feels like it robs you of the actual pleasure of being there. The irony of people relinquishing those real moments to snap selfies to record how much fun they are having pretty much sums up this epidemic.
We've all heard about stopping and smelling roses but who actually does that these days unless their hands are forced.
While an indie folk duo from California managed to do it to a room full of people for an hour, what's it going to take for a more cohesive approach to slowing down and turning the volume down a few notches.
Living life doesn't mean you have to go flat out to prove it.