Recent Reads: A Sanctuary in the City by Annu Subramanian

“Life in a city can be electric, fast and crowded. Whenever we step out of our urban homes, we join a network that’s packed with opportunities. The chances to grow and expand can feel endless, even if at times we can hardly stretch our arms out across the sidewalk. The flip side to having the city’s untapped wonders at our fingertips is that its energy can be exhausting and leave us craving a slower and quieter pace, one where we can roam unencumbered or savor a meal without a waiter asking, “You still working on that?”

Instead of shunning one mode of energy in favor of the other, we can learn how to perch in the middle ground with the quiet hum of our sanctuary in one ear and the blaze of an ambulance siren in the other. Some may call it compromise, but it’s best to consider it a kind of balance in contrasts.

Building a slow lifestyle in a fast-paced city feels all the better for its incongruousness, kind of like how stepping into a hot shower is much more satisfying when it’s cold outside.

Finding a bit of provincial solace in a city-bound home doesn’t have to mean solitude, though. Instead, we can partake in the long-table lore of country life in our own living rooms, even if that means a few people wind up perched on trunks or milk crates. Take note of how your conversations change when they don’t take place over expensive cocktails and urban din. Joining friends in their homes can make for evenings that move according to their own timetables without the presence of hovering servers silently nudging you to pay the check.

Best of all, crafting a rustic lifestyle brings calm into our own sanctums. It diffuses the pressures of the outside world so that we feel relieved as we cross the threshold into our homes. We can’t control everything that happens outside — from the lengthy bus delays to angry sidewalk-sharers — but we can find some peace and perspective in our spaces. Whether we come home to fall asleep or tackle a to-do list as tea cools beside us, we find joy in a serene space that prepares us for our next departure into the outside world.

The opportunity to have a slower domestic lifestyle within the city allows us to appreciate the streets’ hectic and intoxicating pace even more. By introducing a quieter, less hurried routine to our urban setting, we may achieve the best of both worlds: We can just as quickly visit a museum, pick up fusion cuisine from a food truck and rush to a swing-dancing party as we can spend an afternoon simmering stock and writing letters. We might not have the best view of the stars, but we can still look out at the bright lights of our skyline and feel content.”

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