All too often, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day. Even on days when I’m not running programs, the combination of work responsibilities, family responsibilities, and daily minutia seem consume most of my waking hours. Creating time for myself, and more specifically, time for myself in nature seems all but impossible.
Today I was determined to carve out some nature time. The weather was as ideal, I hadn’t visited my favorite patch of woods in weeks, and there are currently tons of birds migrating through our area (I’m a big birdwatcher). My plan was to hike my favorite trail, look at some birds, and unwind. I also planned to use my oft-neglected camera.
As I began my walk, I found myself planning the rest of my afternoon and thinking about everything that needed to be done. Take some photos of white pine needles for an upcoming Nature Notebook entry. Walk my loop and be home in an hour to start working on a grant proposal. Pick up the kids, make dinner… I’d walked a good quarter-mile in about 30 seconds when my head suddenly screamed: SLOW DOWN!
I am not particularly good at slowing down. I talk fast. I eat fast. I walk fast. And often I drive (too?) fast. I’m constantly trying to maximize my time or using “down” time to think about what’s coming next. Rarely do I allow myself to just sit and be.
So I slowed down my pace. I stopped to listen to the flocks of birds passing above and heard newly arrived golden-crowned kinglets (one of my favorites!). I squatted down to search for crickets that were chirping, and while unsuccessfully searching, found some beautiful, tiny mushrooms. By slowing down, I changed my walk from an item on a to-do list to a rewarding experience. I left the woods feeling refreshed, calm, and with a renewed desire to slow down. Now the tricky part will be remembering to do that.