Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Do you notice the passage of time? Do you have little signposts along the way that you look to, that mark the progression of the days of the calendar?

I never understood how thoroughly and in what particular fashion I marked the passing of time and the changing seasons, nor how ingrained that little system of mine had become until just this past week.

I rarely have to rise early to drive my husband to work anymore, and only have to be the one to pick him up at the end of his day one day a week, if that often.

No longer having that regular, daily long commute before dawn and then later again in the afternoon has deprived me of keeping touch with my guideposts for the progression of the seasons. When you travel the same route every day, at about the same time, you tend to notice the changes. Or at least, I do.

You become aware of the sunrise, and how that is a few seconds earlier or later each morning—well, until the clock gets changed, anyway. For example, I would measure the advance of daylight in the spring by where, exactly, I no longer needed to use my car’s high beams on my drive home.

You measure the progression of the changing leaves by noticing certain trees along the journey, and the slowly increasing ratio of red, gold and brown to green.

You also notice the temperature in the morning when you step out of the house before dawn, and mark the day in the fall when you had to wear that jacket for the first time.

This year, I’ve done none of the above and it’s more than a little disconcerting. Because suddenly here we are, in autumn, and I don’t remember getting here.

I had to pick my beloved up just yesterday, and rather than either focusing on the music playing on the radio, or my own thoughts, I paid attention to my rolling environment. I had this strange sense that I’d missed something, for a lot of the leaves have already turned and I don’t know when that started.

I’d already felt as if I’d missed a great deal of the summer, because we’ve been away a lot. We came back from Texas, and I was just settling in to enjoy—or at least pay attention to—our summer, only to realize it had begun to wane.

I always pride myself on being one who stops to smell the roses, or the coffee, and the fact that I haven’t this year gives me pause.

Life happens, sometimes at an astounding pace. Days can come and go and weeks turn to months in the blink of an eye. This is a familiar concept and one I’d had my own little system of besting.

Now I realize, I need to find a new way to stay connected to the world around me, and to pay attention to the days, and the passage of time.

Using deadlines and upcoming conferences doesn’t have the same pleasant side effect of lifting my attention outside of myself. I need to do that, to focus on the world around me, on nature, because that gives me a kind of grounding I haven’t found anywhere else.

Inevitably, when I focus on the trees and the fields, the skies and the clouds, the streams I pass and the forests along the way, I experience a sense of wonder.

I need that sense of wonder. I need that reminder that life is more than my little domain, and in fact consists of things that are both awesome, and awe inspiring.

Without the wonder, without the awe, the magic of life is so much harder to find.


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