June 26, 2011

When Fast Isn't Fast Enough

3 minutes is fast, but is it fast enough?
I was grocery shopping last week and had a good laugh. No, not at my bill. I was horrified at that - so many things are going up in price. Food is one of the only things I buy on a regular basis, and it is increasingly expensive. Not funny.

What I did find humourous, though, was an example of how ideas of fast and instant are reflected in food products. Aisle after aisle of often nutrient-deficient, quickly prepared foods for the chronically rushed. Fast foods for when fast is not fast enough.

First I glanced at the Cream of Wheat, a hot breakfast cereal. It is prepared in 3 minutes. That is fast. Anything that happens in my life in 3 minutes IS instant.

Right next to the slow cereal was a very similar product. It is made for those for whom 3 minutes is too long to wait. The other box was Cream of Wheat "Instant". If you are so inclined, you can have your morning hot cereal without delay, immediately, at once, and in a very short space of time. This way you can get on with the rest of your busy day near instantly.

Instant - ready in an almost imperceptible amount of time

I laughed that 3 minutes was too slow and necessitated a speedier cereal. I guess this is not so bad in a breakfast cereal, but the idea of instant has tended to infect the rest of our lives. Now we want all our desires met instantly - we want everything now.

Can't wait to save enough money for a desired purchase? That is what credit cards are for. A four year university degree is too long? There are programs now where you can graduate with a degree in half the time, as if hanging out with other curious people and learning together was a bad thing.

More Canadians than ever are buying expensive, extravagant homes that are 100% financed because it would take too long to save for a down payment. Instant homes, instant degrees, instant breakfast cereal, instant success. But faster is not always better.

What about delay of gratification? I was taught that it was a good thing to wait, persevere, and eventually through hard work achieve one's goal. Maybe it is old fashioned in today's fast-paced instant world, but at one time it was thought to build character and develop an appreciation for things.

A slow, simple life allows me to practice patience and appreciation. I like to enjoy time rather than always see it as my enemy. I like to have time to savour my moments, to compress both the past and the future into the present. I want to make sacrifices, set forth slowly, build anticipation, and through my efforts move relentlessly toward my goals. Only then is success as sweet as it can possibly be.

By the way, my favourite hot breakfast cereal is groats - they take about 30 minutes to prepare. That is a glacial pace in today's instant world, and I love it. They give me time to leisurely begin my day, unhurried by cereal that is ready too quickly.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." — Ferris Bueller


  1. Great post, as usual. I took time to read it all ;-)
    I'd never heard of groats before. Maybe living south of the border, here in the US, we don't have time for it?

  2. Savoring Servant,

    You are patient, and generous.

    Groats are what results from separating the outer hull from the inner part (groat) of a grain.

    For breakfast I like steel cut oat groats, which are basically cut whole oats that haven't been flattened into flakes for oatmeal. Because they are less processed, they take longer to cook.

    They are worth the wait, though, as they have the highest protein and soluble fibre content of any grain.

    When cooked, oat groats are like a chewier, nuttier oatmeal. Thick Old Fashioned Rolled Oats are good, too. Oats are one of the secrets of a long, healthy life.


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