I have been emailing Naomi Stadlen, author of What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing, to arrange an interview for my next book. This morning she sent along a splendid quote from Boris Pasternak, the Nobel-winning poet and novelist (think Doctor Zhivago). Amid the turmoil of the Russian revolution in 1917, someone told Pasternak that it was crucial in such times to react quickly and shoot (literally) from the hip. His answer was short and to the point: “In an epoch of speed one must think slowly.” A sentiment worth pondering today.
It’s not very often that I find myself applauding the US State Department. But recently Condoleezza Rice’s fiefdom joined forces with leading US companies to issue tips for Americans traveling abroad. One is: “Slow down. (We talk fast, eat fast, move fast, live fast. Many cultures do not.)” Another is: “Speak slower. (A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening.)” Sound advice for everyone, it seems to me, not just Americans.