IT HAS BEEN TEN YEARS SINCE SELF-CONFESSED "SPEEDAHOLIC" Carl Honoré published his best-selling book In Praise of Slow, which advocates the slow philosophy and follows the various slow movements that made their way into global mainstream. Today, we not only entertain, but also adopt the concept of "slow" into our lives, if not at least desire to avoid the ills of a life without it. From the proliferation of slow food, to the popularization of slow fashion, to the constant promotion of mindfulness via articles shared and liked on Facebook, more and more of us exhibit a discontent with high-speed living, seeking ways of decelerating life to a more sensible, sustainable pace.
But there are specific scenarios where speed is celebrated, with no compromise for pacing or moderation. One such scenario is racing, which, since ancient Greek times, has prized the competitor who moves the fastest and finishes first. Be it running, cycling, skiing, sledding, driving, skating or even eating, racing is primarily and ultimately a competition of speed.
I had a chance to see the races at Catalunya's Montmeló circuit, where Lewis Hamilton won his fourth race in a row for the season. As a first-time spectator to Formula One racing, I was pleasantly surprised to find the event much more wholesome than I erroneously envisioned. Where I expected to find scantily-clad grid girls dotting an inebriated male crowd, I found attendees both male and female, young and old, casually-attired and elegantly-garbed, joined by evident fanatics and newbies alike. Days one and two were fairly quiet, save of course for the roaring of the engines, while race day filled up not only the seats at the circuit but also the trains from Barcelona and back.
The race start was exciting. Pit stops were fascinating. First impressions aside, I was most absorbed by the essence given to time in such a controlled context, where finishing first relies on mere seconds. Fortunately, the same need not be the case for everyday living. Gandhi did say that there is more to life than increasing its speed. Just another reminder for dealing with bucket lists and bouts of life envy.
Unless you're on a racetrack, it's not in fact a competition.
Formula One Gran Premio de España Pirelli 2014, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Photos by Lady San Pedro and Jaime Sese.