The pace of life seems to be increasing all around me 37



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I have been addicted for some time to Escape to the Country, a long-running English reality TV show in which couples look to exchange their comfortable city dwelling for a ramshackle, thatched-roofed, low-ceilinged abode in the wind swept, rain-soaked, muddy, grey countryside of Britain. This naturally leads me to think: Wow! I would love to do that!

I have lived in cities all my life and convinced myself that I am happy in a teeming metropolis. But as I get older the pace of life seems to be increasing all around me. My home is an oasis of tranquillity, but the second I step outside the gate I am swept along in a sea of humanity at breakneck speed with hardly time to breathe or, indeed, live.

Sounds melodramatic, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. This feeling is actually a sign that I am reassessing what is important and what I want to leave behind. It’s a transitional thing. Our daughter has grown up and is about to go overseas. My non-writing career – my ‘real’ job – has peaked and I’m toying with thoughts of retirement. The idea of living in the countryside is, at the moment, a utopian solution that is helping me readjust my headspace to a brand new and exciting phase of my life.

Obviously, the pace of life has not increased. It’s the same carousel as it has always been. I just want to get off. I’ve had enough. I wish to slow down. Not sure I want to smell the roses, as that’s not my thing, but you know what I mean. When the general population around you start to resemble headless chooks, something is telling you the winds of change are a’blowin’.

My wife and I recently spent two weeks in Queensland in a 22nd floor apartment overlooking the ocean. We couldn’t hear our neighbours. We couldn’t hear traffic. All we could hear was the sound of the waves breaking, just as they have done for millions of years. It was timeless and restful; the sound the earth made when there were no people to hear it. In effect, we achieved prehistoric peace and contentment during a two week holiday. Now that’s value for money!

A holiday like that is a temporary fantasy. We were away from home and work and commitment. The reality of permanently living in a country town or coastal community will be quite different to the city. Fewer amenities, animals, snakes, drought, flood, sharks, flies, feral neighbours, roaming sadistic serial killers, coal seam gas mining, vegans. And you might be under pressure, heaven forbid, to get involved in the community and join a group making wardrobes out of driftwood or knitting tupperware. These dangers are very real for the urban escapee and should not be taken lightly.

There are positives, too. Getting up with the sun, having the time and inclination to stop and look at something for longer than a millisecond, meeting people who say hello when you greet them in passing. And stopping for a chat. Peace and quiet.

But the most enticing part of this change is slowing down. Putting on the brakes and possessing time to enjoy what I’m doing instead of being consumed by all the things I haven’t done. I also look forward to emptying my head (which should actually be quick and easy, according to my wife).

In short, the goal is to live a life enjoying the time we actually have instead of complaining there isn’t enough of it.


Have you been slowing down more as you get older? Do you love the pace?

Steven Harrison

Steve Harrison lives in Sydney with his wife and daughter and is the author of TimeStorm, an epic action adventure, time travel, historical romance novel (he sends his apologies to any missed genres). He also makes short films under his Pronunciation Fillums partnership. Steve's website is at

  1. Great story thanks so very much for sharing it with us, I spent a couple of weeks in Queensland myself last year in a high rise apartment over looking the beach, it was wonderful I totally loved it and hated leaving there

  2. I enjoyed reading this Steven. I don’t live a very hectic lifestyle anymore and I enjoy that I have time to stop and smell the roses, but there is too much to see and do to slow down too much. 🙂

  3. Just happy to no longer be a “slave to the alarm clock”! Retired for over 15 years now, time does seem to go faster than ever before; and, this is without living a “hectic” life. Sometimes, hubby & I would comment on how “time has flown by & where did it go?” @ end’s day! Plan to undertake more visits & revisits around our beautiful country, & significant other international destinations, prior to ALL body joints getting too “rusty”.

  4. Wow this was a great story for my hubby and I We also are just accessing what we need to do To enjoy together what time we have together I am retired he still works It seems that’s what our life is at Present We both love the ocean So we have a plan early. Next year to move to Hervey Bay A life change for us Our family are grown doing what they need to do We feel we have to do this for us Just stepping down Hubby fishing and yes Steven me smelling the roses Thank you for posting this it brought realisation we are not alone in our thinking

    3 REPLY
    • Hervey Bay is wonderful isn’t it. Just the right size town and right on the coast. We have ‘done the whales’ and thought we’d like to stay there too. People were friendly and shop assistants helpful with regard to ‘out-of-towners’

    • We want to move from Sydney west to the mid north coast but the grandkids won’t let us. Love the pace of life up there but am torn between family and our own desires. Am scared also if we missed them too much it would be hard to come back with the property market sky rocketing here.

    • Janice Leonie Locke We also had the same concern My kids and grand children live on the Gold Coast At present we are about 30mins away We thought and talked Then we decided we needed to do what we really wanted

  5. From someone who has made this lifestyle choice Steven, I recommend it 100%. The headless chook life is only a distant bad memory.

  6. I’ve just retired and am on a 6 month overseas trip. I am taking the time to hear those waves lapping and feel that breeze blowing. It takes some adjusting to as I still find myself wanting to rush. But then I realise I no longer have to…..

    1 REPLY
  7. Love Escape to the Country too! 10 years ago we did just that to north of Warkworth in NZ but now live in Orewa which is a nice compromise. We found that although we loved the rural lifestyle there were drawbacks. Sceptic tank, a property that needed money pouring into it all the time and
    An inclination to bury ourselves at the property and not make the effort to go to the theatre etc.
    We still smell the roses and enjoy life, just not in the country!

  8. It is truly lovely to be able to stop and look around.
    I retired 18 months ago and my mind was still needing to do 3 things at once!
    I had 2 books on the go at same time as a magazine & computer games.
    My daughter used to call me captain rush rush.
    Work had been always a hurry situation.
    No longer. I just float about and enjoy the day.

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