|Joan, on the beach, at Qualicum.|
There's been significant time on the water recently...always so refreshing for body, mind, and spirit. It's an outdoor pursuit that also offers lots of "thinking" time. The rhythm of countless paddle strokes over many hours offers a contemplative experience. Such times are necessary, for they offer balance and provide renewed strength for what life calls us all to "do".
In these precious moments on the water, I thought about time, life's most precious commodity...and how we sometimes allow it to "vanish" in the passage and industry of each day. Sometimes, in fact, we even wish it away. It has been my experience, over the years, that "lost time" is the greatest regret most people have as they near the end of their lives. That difficult circumstance, however, is abundantly avoidable.
Most of us over the age of forty, which I am (but only slightly, well, OK, maybe by quite a bit) are familiar with the experience of time just "flying". Every year, it seems to pass by faster and faster and it is almost as if we are on a spinning carousel, the back drop of life's "scenery" flashing by. When that happens, of course, we miss out on so much.
It seems like just a short time ago that Joan and I were getting married in a beautiful church next to the university that we were attending in Hamilton, Ontario. She wore a simple wedding dress that she had made herself. I wore a rented morning suit, with ascot, winged collar and white boutonnière - absolutely dashing! Haha! Almost forty-two years ago now, it does seem rather "sixties". Of course, it was. :)
But strangely, those days seem like just "yesterday".
|Memories still so fresh!|
Time, however, didn't always pass this quickly. As little children, the hours and days and weeks were so long and delicious. Every day, in fact, could have been described as a "never-ending story". An afternoon adventure in the playground lasted a lifetime. Summer holidays lasted even longer.
|A "sea monster", as long as Joan's kayak, looms darkly below.|
When we slow time down, our imaginations are freed. :)
Time lingered...and we didn't always appreciate it.
The older we get, however, the more rapidly time seems to fly by. Some would explain that this is because when we are young, our lives are ahead of us, stretching out into a distant future. But when we get older, the larger percentage of our lives are behind us, with the "sands" of time simply running out.
I'm not so sure about that. I think there's more to it. And it's rather exciting.
When we were young, we were constantly learning. We were literally growing up. And we were, for the most part, eager about the process of learning. Our eyes were as wide as saucers and our minds vacuumed up every bit of new knowledge. We ate it up, drank it in, relished it...and celebrated our successes and accomplishments, large and small. Even our frequent failures contributed to our growth, for every new experience tested us, and strengthened us. We didn't look so much for short cuts - sadly, that's an adult "thing".
Time does seem to pause when we are struggling to master a new skill. Whether it's learning to walk, or run, or ride a bicycle, master social skills, or grasp the elements of algebra and geometry, our minds are occupied and struggling...and growing.
It is in such moments that time slows down and permits the process of learning. In these "times", life reveals a beauty and an intricacy that can only be appreciated when our hearts and minds are open to the deliberate and sometimes painstaking process of exploration and discovery.
When we get older, however, our hunger for learning seems satiated, by our desire to be "comfortable". We think that we've learned all we need to know and sometimes we even avoid the tasks and responsibilities that we know will test our patience, strength, and will. We look for the short cuts...we stop growing and learning. The result: the passage of time accelerates, almost out of control...and we wonder what we have to show for it.
I've discovered at least one secret to slowing down the passage of time: it's doing something difficult, something you really may not even want to do, every single day.
When we were with kayaking coach Gordon Brown last month, on the Isle of Skye, he taught us to take the time to develop balance and confidence in the kayak...by getting out of the kayak. The exercises looked difficult. Surely, it would be a lot more fun just to paddle! We took his advice, however, and have practised faithfully since that time. It has been during these practice sessions, frequently falling in and having to get back in the cockpit, that we have discovered a most surprising gift. In the midst of the "struggle", we became as little children. And time...slowed down.
Amidst the frustration, the failures, the successes, and the determination...time slowed down. And when these skills are mastered, it will be time to move on to other challenges. There are, of course, unlimited challenges in the world of sea kayaking!
|Time out of the cockpit, the process...|
|...of slowing down the passage of time.|
And almost in obedience to that process, the precious moments dutifully slow their otherwise (seemingly) frantic pace so that each can be truly tasted and savoured.
The relatively brief four hours on the water made for a very long day...just the way it should always be.