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Svetlozar Zhelev: Slow-pace living is not about speed – it is about the delight of the moment

Photo: BGNES

After a weekend reading marathon when Svetlozar Zhelev had to read six books at once, the writer found an outlet for his emotions on Facebook: “I am creating a slow-pace movement – for slow reading, slow eating, slow drinking, slow living”. Today, Svetlozar Zhelev is recognized as a guru of the movement, and his followers are sharing their experiences in the art of living in the moment on the pages of a newly-printed book called “On slow living and the pleasure of life”.

To live slowly does not mean to drag through life like a snail, rather it is about keeping your eyes wide open and relishing every single moment.

“The slow pace should not be categorized in terms of speed,” says Svetlozar Zhelev. “Slow pace is harmony between our inner feeling and the outside pressure that the world imposes on us. By finding such “anchors” that slow down our lives, we begin to allow ourselves to grasp the pleasures of each moment. In fact, these moments are the ones giving us harmony and slow pace. It is the speed that dictates whether we can truly enjoy the clouds, the sun rising and setting, the colour and scent of blossoming linden trees. All these small yet beautiful and significant things.”

Svetlozar Zhelev   /  Photo: Diana Tsankova

Svetlozar Zhelev explains that in order for us to start living, it is necessary to leave out of our lives everything we dislike – things that we do by obligation, meeting people we do not like, or weapons with which we inflict harm on ourselves.

“Those who are close to us, the ones we love, are very important. We have to do whatever we like and love, we have to find the time for ourselves and all the little things that bring us happiness and make us feel better,” he continues. “It does not matter whether we would call it “taking the pleasure of life”, “slow living” or simply “harmony”. But precisely these moments and charms, presented to us by life, together with the opportunity to enjoy them, are what slow living constitutes, they are what is actually meaningful.”

Photo: BGNES

Bulgarian journalist Georgi Toshev – one of the characters in the book, shares that he is learning how to speak slowly, think slowly and live slowly in order to conserve meaningful moments he could share.

“One of my slowness rituals is about walking alone through the forest. And even though I would like to share the experience with somebody else, I first need to share it with myself,” he says. “I also love observing people before rushing in and becoming acquainted, having conversations or a coffee with them. All of this is feeding me with new knowledge about others and the world around me. Since I have always been a person who usually likes sharing, I now decided to experience all that is happening deep inside of me, instead of just going through and consuming it. Slowing down is important for everyone who understands that they do not depend on themselves alone, but also on the surrounding people - from those who are closest, to the most distant.”

In her culinary blog called “In Food Veritas”, Adriana Gyuzeleva idolizes the slow foods. She holds the opinion that even if whatever you are eating could be regarded as street food or fast food, no matter from which part of the world, it is important to be able to enjoy it.

Adriana Gyuzeleva and Georgi Toshev  /  Photo: Diana Tsankova

“My experience begins with Italy – la Bella Italia, la dolce vita and the whole culture of life and art in the country in general. I am seeking to slow down my pace, even if my life is in the fast lane, in order to take pleasure. A small ritual of mine, for instance, is getting up earlier than necessary in the morning, for the sake of having time to myself. I drink coffee and some lemon water, check the news, play some music and dance, or iron a piece of clothing. From there on time rushes faster and faster. And if we do not slow down the things we like a little, we cannot fully appreciate and experience them entirely.”

“The coronavirus pandemic did not simply slow us down – it stopped our lives,” Svetlozar Zhelev says. “This should not happen. That is why today when we embark on our daily races with people and time, every now and then it would be valuable to sing along with Stefan Vuldobrev in his song “Take it slow, take it slow…”

English version Boris Totchev
Photos: BGNES and Diana Tsankova

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