It’s now three weeks since I finished my sabbatical and returned to work and I am really struggling to adjust. Three months of camping and hiking and staring at trees (as well as a few other trips and things) must have really slowed me down and it’s been quite a shock to come back to the pace of ‘normal’ life. I think I hadn’t realised how fast the merry-go-round was spinning until I tried to climb back on it. It’s just exhausting. And I think, “Why?” Why are we so accepting of such a fast pace of life, or is it just me who is struggling to cope?
Trees have a different timescale. I read somewhere that oak trees take 300 years to grow, 300 years to live and 300 years to die. To sit and spend a couple of hours watching the leaves flutter on a tree is less than a blink of an eye to the tree. I find myself wishing I could just be amongst the trees again, because I think life seems to make more sense in the woods.
At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps, are insects like the Mayfly, who lives in its adult state for just one day. In Rob Cowan’s brilliant book, ‘Common Ground’, he writes about the day of the adult mayfly and weaves that story around a story of some young people seizing the moment and living for the day.
Somewhere between the 300,000 days of an oak tree’s life and the one day of the mayfly, is my life. I wonder, what is my natural time? What is the natural pace for a human life? I can’t sit around all day staring at trees as if I’ve got all the time in the world, because I don’t. Some things have to be done, to live, to work, to love. But they don’t all have to be done right now as if today is all I have and I must frenetically pack as much into each minute as possible. In fact, much of the living, working and loving can only happen well if given time for paying attention, to listen, to think and to feel. How can we – how can I – live like a human being in a mayfly culture?
3 thoughts on “Natural time”
I love your musings! The pace of my life has slowed down since I was laid off from my day job 4 years ago, and sometimes I chide myself for not accomplishing as many things each day as I used to when I had too many things to do, 24/7. I love this sentence: “I think I hadn’t realised how fast the merry-go-round was spinning until I tried to climb back on it. It’s just exhausting. And I think, “Why?” Why are we so accepting of such a fast pace of life, or is it just me who is struggling to cope?” I assume that most of us are spinning so fast as a strategy to avoid thinking about some of the huge issues facing our lives on planet earth, which can seem very daunting — such as the huge extinction of other species of life happening right now due in part to our voracious human need to eat/build/buy/travel/consume natural resources. Hurrah that you take time to slow down!
Thanks so much. I think you’re right about spinning so fast as a way of avoiding dealing with huge issues. I need to make your last sentence truer and slow down more. I was going to say “work harder to slow down” but that’s the oxymoronic(?) lie I tell myself that keeps my life too fast!
Your response to my reply makes me laugh out loud. Hurrah for humor, too!