When everything on the surface of life suddenly stopped last March, the storms moving inside us became more apparent. With the world ostensibly still, movement suddenly bore a strange mystique. We couldn’t help but marvel at the fact that everything is always moving. The universe, with the stars, the galaxies, blackholes, planets and us within it, is in eternal spinning. We are beings made in movement. Getting lost in motion is inherent to us. Perhaps this is why dance is so liberating—it’s a way we come home, even momentarily.
On the flip side of the coin is stillness. Just as movement is the most obvious sign of life that there is, stillness bears the symbolism of anti-life, or death. With the possibility of death suddenly being a step closer in the wake of a pandemic, contemplating stillness was alarming, and a little too close to reality. How do you continue to see beauty in a strangely hostile world? As an anecdote to the mounting fear, we turned to artists and poets who conjured beauty and wonder while staring into the eternal stillness. We learnt that without stillness, there is no room to receive the lessons of movement. It is where movement is ascertained, analysed, understood and mastered. Stillness is the empty space within which movement is conceived. One cannot be without the other.
The world is always teaching us with patterns made from movement and stillness—life and death, light and darkness; we simply have to unarm ourselves, observe, and learn.
Our contemplations on movement and stillness led us to an interesting place; this is slowness. We fell in love with the idea of discovering a sweet spot between movement and stillness. Slow enough to make good decisions, but not so much that you slip into inertia. Slowness is different to sluggishness; the latter is careless, whereas slowness is deliberate. Slowness carries that confidence sensed in someone unhurried; it is the opposite of the frenzy behind nervousness. It is thoughtful, careful and heavy with intention. Can slowness become a way of life? We think so. Slowness as a philosophy penetrating food, agriculture, travel and fashion has been in conversations for years now, underlining a growing disenchantment with the breathless haste to get there faster. We know now, that ‘fast’ often leads to hurrying past life’s pleasures and lessons. For Rithihi, slowness also connects back to methods, materials and lifestyles we strongly resonate with. Slowness represents honouring the time that mastery of an art or craft truly requires; sourcing responsibly without resorting to the easier and faster channel. It’s the satisfaction in choosing the long scenic road instead of the highway, and savouring that last piece of deliciousness with our eyes closed.
Slowly, but surely.