Slow Down Sunday: Trust In Slowness

In 240 BC, king Hiero of Syracuse ordered his chief engineer and inventor to complete a nearly impossible task: Build the Syracusia.

The Syracusia was the Titanic of its day. A ship so large, so pompous, so loaded with amenities, it would be a floating palace in the sea.

It would have a catapult and eight massive watchtowers atop the deck. A flower-lined promenade, indoor swimming pools, a library, a temple, a gym, and a bathhouse with warm water for the passengers.

The ship was supposed to carry 400 tons of grain, 10,000 jars of pickled fish, over 70 tons of drinking water, wool, and other goods. Hiero also wanted it to carry over 1,000 people, including hundreds of soldiers, and 20 horses.

The Syracusia was a great vision for a big king at the time. Unfortunately, it was the engineer’s problem to figure out how to keep this thing afloat. Imagine the ship would sink on its maiden voyage! Back in those days, death was a common punishment for failure.

But the engineer was clever. After days of deliberation, he eventually figured out that, as long as the underwater half of the ship displaced as much water as it weighed in total, it would float just fine! The idea came to him as he was immersing himself in a nice, hot bath.

Today, it is called Archimedes’ Principle - and recognized as one of the most fundamental laws of physics.

But wait a minute? Wasn’t Archimedes’ story one about a crown, a cheating goldsmith, and a guy running naked through the streets? Maybe. The Latin word for crown is ‘corona.’ The Greek word for keel - the part of a ship that’s underwater - is ‘korone.’

Chances are, these two stories are one and the same. History changed the facts. But regardless which version is true, the big lesson is this:

Archimedes had to trust in slowness.

He couldn’t rush his equations out the door. He couldn’t jump to false conclusions. He had to believe that, with some time, he would figure it out.

In our own lives, we often get scared because we think we’re running out of time. We too have to learn to trust in slowness.

By Thursday, I hadn’t made any progress on an important project all week. But instead of jumping into it, I took a break. The next day, I covered enough ground in four hours to make up for everything. I hit my stride. Slowing down had helped me speed up.

It’s hard to have faith in this process. Especially when you’re under pressure. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work. Often, it’s exactly what we need to break through.

The Syracusia only made one journey. It sailed from Italy to Egypt, where it was given as a present to another king. But it stayed afloat just fine.

All because one man had faith in slowness.


About Slow Down Sunday: Life is fast. If we don’t stop and turn around once in a while, we might miss it. So on Sunday, let’s stop and turn around.

Let’s slow down so we can experience all of life - not just parts of it.

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