As humans, we tend to go faster than required, and we are often acting reluctantly. | Dan Abbott

Almost three years after a virus stopped the world in its tracks, our 'business as usual' pace has returned to pre-pandemic levels. It may even be accelerating. Government figures show that in 2022, airports across all of Spain’s islands experienced a record high in arrivals (a 6.2 percent increase compared to 2019). Meanwhile the global population reached a historical maximum of eight billion people. To add to the chaos, we’re blasted with daily '30 second reels' on our phones, with faster images and increasingly emotional music to engage more viewers…. are we even able to control what we look at? Is this light speed, maddening rhythm, a healthy one?

Photo: Dan Abbott.

Right now, the Spanish network RNE is broadcasting the programme El Bosque Habitado. A quote from this show has caught my attention: “Linking progress to speed has made things too easy”. Today’s episode is called: 'Accelerating at a Red Light'. It analyses our current relationship with haste.

In contrast, I’m writing this article while sitting on the porch of my small country house in Part Forana, basking in the gentle warmth of the spring sun, grateful for my peaceful surroundings (occasionally interrupted by my boisterous rooster). Today, I am writing without haste, and I am thankful for it.

Every living being has its own pace. The speed at which the sap travels from the roots to the tip of the stem is different for each plant. The same goes for every tree. Every animal has a distinct rhythm of growth – some fast, some slow – as they continue to evolve. As humans, we have a talent for creating our own stressors. We often struggle to slow down to match our natural pace in this world.

Consider this: since the Freu de sa Dragonera Marine Reserve was protected in 2016, the average biomass (the weight of living matter) increased by an amazing 340 percent in deep waters. The lesson is clear: without human involvement (or with controlled minimal involvement), nature recovers by itself, at its own pace. Going slowly, does not mean stopping, we can continue to grow. Let’s learn from that.

Another fact to consider: each individual has a different rhythm to their heartbeat. To connect with your inner pace, stop, take a breath and calmly focus your attention on your heartbeat. Slowly, the high-speed train of thought slows down, it finds the beating heart, the body and rhythm of life.

Photo: Mari Gutic.

I wish we could learn to slow down and connect with nature. We are all a part of this ancient organism, even if our fast-paced lives make us forget that. The disconnect we experience from our natural surroundings, and even our own physical nature, is what pushes us to seek those empty dopamine rushes. It all goes hand in hand with our fast-paced existence. Neoliberalism praises rapidity: the more the better, the faster, the more effective. The word 'slow' has earned an unfair reputation.

There is therefore a need for a deeper and more meaningful approach to life, and to foster community and thoughtfulness. In the natural world, animals will find their pace, going with the flow of their surroundings. As humans, we tend to go faster than required, and we are often acting reluctantly. So, let’s reflect, reconnect and not let anyone but ourselves set the pace.

At Save the Med, our aim is to regenerate biodiversity in the land and sea. But, if we don’t understand where we come from, what our rhythm is and what (and not who) should be setting it, we’re on a road to nowhere. One of the key concepts of our roadmap is 'understanding'. First, let nature remind us of one of its great lessons: not to be in a hurry. Stop, observe, listen. It is the basis for knowing our purpose, knowing WHY we do what we do. Let’s slam on the brakes. Only then can we lay the foundations of our mission: to reconnect with the planet’s biodiversity as active (not destructive) participants, return to our natural rhythm, regenerate environments and live in harmony.