Thursday, December 6, 2018

Slowing Time

"We don't need nothing but today"

I've thought about this line from a favorite (Mac Miller) song so much lately. It swims into my psyche almost daily: driving, walking the frost bitten loop, barely opening my eyes to the day. It's the simplest of sentiments but it's been working surprisingly well for me as a mind-check mantra.

I'm kind of obsessed with time. Aren't you?....Or are you one of those lucky monsters who never gets caught in a loop thinking about the time they have left in a day, the impending doom of shortening space? For me, modern adult living feels like a full-time job with zero seconds to waste. In a world where basic to-do's like work, laundry, and transportation consume every moment, we face a nagging quandary of how to maximize our limited hours and overall impermanence. More trips! More destinations, goals, possessions, notoriety, success. What could make this slog better, bearable, more meaningful?

So much of what we humans do while trying our best to be our best actually robs us of the incredibly precious time we have to simply exist; encompass the human experience. Ugh, the insufferable amount of time wasted! Anxiety, fear, indecision, comparison, planning... 

In revolt of these potential regrets, it's become my prime focus this year to cultivate a practice of slowing time. 

Here's what that looks like for me:

Pool of the Winds
1.     Awareness
Awareness slowwwws time. So does practicing a pause. I try to pause and revel in moments where I feel indisputably good or peaceful. Awareness develops a benevolent wonder that infuses hours with significantly deeper meaning. Practicing the pause is also super beneficial in times of stress and judgement. Pause. Does this even matter? Should I waste more time on this feeling/thought/insecurity, or move on? Literally, move on. Walk it off, leave it in the shadow where it belongs.

2.     Going inward
I'm so obsessed with tapping into the voice of my soul, my intuition. I demand bravery. Be brave in asking for what you want from your day (each day) and in actually embodying these inherent drives. Be honest with yourself. BREATHE.

I love to go inward by spending a minimum of 30 minutes at the start or end of my day creating, rather than enjoying other people’s creations. We live in a word overflowing with captivating TV shows,  fascinating podcasts, and constant newness. Slowing time is about breaking habituation though, in search of dynamic and inspired moments that linger with magic. We can't just hijack everyone else's creative breakthroughs. We need to seek our own. 

3.     Saying YES and NO with authenticity
It takes so much courage to own and direct your time! The more I come to terms with the limited nature of my days on this planet, the more fiercely unapologetic I am with my Yes and No. Don't give your time away without serious thought. It's your greatest gift to give. Don’t say yes when you’re already dreading the follow up. Don’t say no out of shame when your heart is silently crying yes.

4.     Leaning into chance
I plan my free time (i.e. ANY time outside of work and sleep) less rigorously, and less far in advance. I'm sooo into making plans the day of or day before, rather than constantly committing a week in advance when I have no clue how I'll feel. Leave room for chance to open doors. It requires breathing room to thrive. Serendipity begets synchronicity.

5.     Identifying treasures hiding in plain sight
It's way too easy to ignore the small and seemingly mundane things that give our waking hours context and depth. For me, these are things like: the Califia cold brew I drink just about every morning, the way my dog climbs under the covers part way through the night, a new podcast episode to listen to just in time for a long drive, my landlord walking packages over to my front door, a random compliment from a stranger, the smell of a used bookstore, or of rain on cement. Without this collection of seemingly tiny, minute sources of happiness, my life would have no spaciousness or texture-two vital ingredients for elongating time.

It's no surprise that I also believe outdoor adventure can make our precious time on Earth extra ripe and robust. Especially when you're outside thriving with someone you love. Our time is ours to give and spend, and the most sincere indication of what/who we treasure. The seconds we disperse are gone forever once we spend them. We don't need nothing but today, if we expand today as wide as the sea.

"Empty open, choice-less as the beach. Waiting for a gift from the sea."  
- Anne Lindbergh

~Photos from Hamilton Mountain~

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Reviving Limbs

Back at it..or something like that. I took Claire to one of my favorite hike spots in Eastern Washington a few weeks ago: Umtanum Ridge Crest. I've done this hike more times than most. Lake Serene or Lake 22 are probably the only Washington trails I've returned to as frequently as this one. Each is special in their own way, with views that change drastically along with the seasons.

I've learned the hard way that this trail isn't safe in deep Winter. The very first time I came out here years ago, in February, we couldn't scale the last two hills that carry you to the top of the ridge. They are 45 degree torture climbs, and the ice covered ground made for constant slipping. Tumbling down with no living foliage to grab onto, and no steps or rope, would make for a long and painful descent.

I couldn't believe how difficult this trail was for me. I haven't felt this out of shape in a long, long time. I acquired a series of little injuries this Summer, including a recent hammy pull on the same leg as my once-dislocated kneecap. Things were feeling shaky and unreliable in my long, wobbly limbs. The summer sun burned long and extra hot this year, but the season was stunted in so many ways. First, there were a series of devastating forest fires across the state, barring access to roads and trails, and causing nearly unbearable air quality. Then, aggressive goat removal projects closed parts of the Olympics out here by me (had to happen right when Dad was visiting). An usual number of cougar and bear sightings across the state, clumsy-ass me getting hurt, and dog walkers canceling last minute. Soooo many hikes were planned in the past four months that just didn't come to fruition.


This one was great though. Despite my shame in falling wayyy behind Claire on the last leg up, it felt damn good to get my heart beating THAT hard again. I love Eastern Washington, and there's almost nothing I love as much as bringing people out to this dry desert vortex of lesser known (and thus less crowded) trails.

Claire is such a magical person, and getting to know her has been a highlight of 2018. She's taught me so much in such a short period of time, and every time we hang out I find myself cracking open; spilling secrets, dreams, and stories. She feels like a safe space, yet manages to be hella cool and exciting to be around at the same time. She's an absolute beast on the trail, and inspires me so damn much in her ritualistic dedication to hiking. The best people I know are a dichotomy of soft and hard, like her.

We got lost on the way to Umtanum, turning the one-way drive from Olympia into nearly 4 hours on the road. Why I still trust the Washington Trails website for driving directions, I'll never know.... No worries though, because Claire introduced a new trend of reading while driving to trailheads. Our first book: Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit. Here's one of my favorite paragraphs from the first chapter:

"When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one of the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains."