Through our normal daily lives, time consistently pushes us forward toward goals and moments we may or may not be aware of. We are on this train, sometimes without a conductor, but most times with no way to pause or exit that train. While in some regards, the choosing of what defines our view of time is arbitrary, it is rooted in science, astronomy, and universal constants, motions, and laws of gravity.
Imagine what our lives would look like, how much more hurried we would be, if the earth spun around the sun in half the time?
As the sun sets on the last day of our definition of a year, it does give a mental pause, a time for reflection, and a chance to look ahead at another 1-year block of time. The transition grants a reasonable chunk of time to work with, to plan, and set individual goals as I strive to wake up tomorrow better than I was today.
As the sun falls behind the forest and its last rays scatter through bare branches, I begin to accept this as an opportunity to start again, being with a clean slate so to speak, and visit the fields.
Wind-swept and holding tree shadows, the fields are silent and calm and with no judgment they accept my presence as I prepare to transition to the new year.
That crossroad we come to
in moments of stress and blocks,
the struggle choking rational thoughts,
the behavior, the actions – this is not me.
How did this happen?
How did I get here?
Change is subtle and patient.
One day we vow to find balance,
to live and act a certain way,
to be, most importantly, better than
Then time takes over,
and one winter morning, awake before the alarm,
thoughts are consumed with the upcoming day,
week, and months, items and events beyond
control, but consuming, pushing
away everything that is important, that matters.
Closing eyes tight, breathing, trying to push
this away and overcome the thoughts, but it has wrapped cold bony
fingers around the mind and wont let go.
I am losing sight of the path,
I am losing focus of the empty fields.
Each day folds into another as the weeks
and months pass with little notice
and soon another year rises beyond the horizon
and I am forced to confront where I am in this life
and if this is where I want to be, is this the path
I started down before?
How do I break from this cycle?
How do I wrestle back control and stake claim
to the life I am meant to live?
Returning from an Alaskan retreat, I am different.
Nothing earth shattering and most likely not noticeable to most people I come into contact with.
Back home, the sky has not changed, the trees stand tall against the summer blue, and the grass is coarse from overdue rain.
Obligations, bills, demands, job – waited at the front door for the week to pass and my return.
Emails arrive in the overflowing inbox and the phone still rings.
Lines form at registers waiting for morning coffee.
But something is different.
I left here in a chaotic state, doubts of the pathway I built and have stayed on, despite the uncertainty. I was clinging to the next day or week, hoping that it will be different from today, that if I just hold-out, the answers and next direction will reveal themselves. I had become complacent and stagnant.
How many years was I going to relinquish control of my path to outside forces with unknown names and unfamiliar faces?
Something is different now that my feet are on the ground here. What happened up there in the Alaskan wilderness?
I walk to the backyard and stand on the cement patio with coffee. The morning sun rays begin to touch treetops and the golden glow is stark against the deep blue sky. But I do not see this and I do not hear the ravens playing in the fields beyond the hill.
Lost in some thought I cannot place, my eyes close and I am back in Alaska with a river stretching to the base of distant mountains. I am flying above glaciers and standing so close I can taste the cold. I am riding an ATV through forest and open fields until I stand overlooking the river valley and and lose myself to the silence, the beauty, and the immense landscape.
That is what I see now that I am back home. Now that I have returned from an Alaskan retreat, the burdens I left here with have been replaced with nature, tangible things I can see, touch, smell, taste. Things that will my mind and push everything else out. In return for this gift, I am more silent, thinking before I speak, and keeping more calm and control of myself as I attempt to cope with the present and push for a different future that I create.