Are We There Yet?
I very distinctly remember that walk.
We were on a trail in one of our favorite state parks, all four of us. My husband, son, and I were walking along at a persistent pace. My daughter, on the other hand, was stopping at every hole in the ground to peer inside, sniffing each flower to see if it had an inviting scent, and picking up each fallen leaf to determine if she already had that color in her leaf collection.
At first, we were all entertained and often joined in her exploration. The farther we got down the path, however, the more anxious each of us became. My husband and I knew that we were no more than 1/4 of the way to our destination. At this pace, we'd easily be on the trail for another hour. My son, already complaining that this was taking too long, just wanted to run.
I was reminded of this walk recently when we were on a long drive. The whines of, "are we there yet?!" had started in the backseat. My son's allotted electronic-time was up, and my daughter had finished all of her books. Each of us kept glancing at the clock, trying to figure out how much longer it would be until we could escape from the confines of the car.
Glancing away from the clock and out the window, I noticed a rather ordinary field. For whatever reason, I suddenly saw that field in the way my daughter had seen the path in the park. Every moving tip of wheat was mesmerizing. I wanted to figure out what that orange shape was, if that moving figure was a hawk or a robin, and had the strong desire to open the door, jump out of the car, and run - arms wide open - through the soft grasses.
But we didn't stop. Everyone continued on. The other cars, our car, everyone in our car, speeding past this now irresistible field. Soon I forgot about it, and was back to clutching my head while the pace of life sped on and the kids continued coming up with new words to call one another.
I've been thinking of all of this recently as my email inbox continues to swell and my posts get fewer and fewer. This pace of life, of online life in particular, is exhilerating and infuriating.
There are times when I thrive on keeping pace with The Internet. I respond to emails within 2 hours, post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on the blog, send out Mindfulness Now emails every 36 hours, share timely and exciting posts on Facebook, and upload, edit, and share every captivating photo I took in the past 48 hours.
And there are times when I don't.
There is an awful lot of debate about which is the right path. (Debate which I've joined in, on both sides of the argument, from time to time.)
It is important to have goals, to be moving steadfastly on a path towards those goals, to not let yourself get distracted by things that do not bring you closer to that point.
And it is important to stop and smell the roses, to aimlessly wander the the back-roads-less-travelled, and to take retreats from the incessant flow of online information.
I see the benefits to both paths. It leaves me feeling deliciously comfortable yet slightly guilty wherever I am. I want to be moving faster. Or slower. But I'm also moving at exactly the right speed.
This. This is the path. A path. Your path. My path.
You, sitting here reading this.
Me, typing it, leaving a message for you to find in the playgrounds of time.
Slow, fast, goal-oriented, or aimlessly wandering. Sometimes we will find a new color of leaf, sometimes we'll notice how an ant crawls easily out of the steep, dark hole, and sometimes we will see the field.
Sometimes we won't.
If we get stuck in wondering if it is the right path, the right way to success or inner peace or happiness? If we keep glancing at the end of the clock or the end of the trail or the stats on the website? If we do that, we miss it all - the field, the drive, the email, the run, the flowers.
Take a deep breath.
We are here.