Gift #1: The Luxury of Time

With every breath I take, I am acutely aware of how fortunate I am to be on this trip, experiencing the majesty of the most beautiful places in North America.  Timm and I regularly turn to each other and say, “How did we get so lucky?”  On a recent hike, we walked along talking and realized that this trip has given us 5 gifts. I’ll write about each gift in a separate blog article.

The first gift is the luxury of time.  Having a year to travel across the USA and Canada is an indescribably valuable gift.  This longer timeframe permeates every moment of every day and has impacts we could not have predicted.

Time is the most valuable currency we have, as described in one of my favorite stories about the value of time.  “Time waits for no one.” Once time has passed, all the money in the world can not bring it back. Time does not allow do-overs, rewinds or repeats. It just keeps marching on. We each have this very moment, with no guarantee of the next.  We often wish we had more time.  Yet, when our time is up, and this life is over, we can only look back and hope that we spent our time wisely and without regret.

Timm hugs on Darby while Shadow gazes at the scenery

Taking a year for this trip is the single largest factor that makes it a completely different and more enjoyable experience.  It starts when we wake up in the morning, slowly coming to consciousness with that happy realization that today is another day of our adventure.  Yet, unlike a vacation, there is not the feeling impatience that is often felt when trying to maximize those few precious vacation days per year.  Taking a year allows us to appreciate each day for what it truly is and not wish for it to be different.  If we choose to not take that long hike today, we can do it tomorrow.  Or the next day.  For once, time is on our side.

The luxury of time changes how we perceive and experience our hikes.  In the past on our two-week hiking vacations, there was an undercurrent of time pressure because time was limited.  We’d try to drink in the hikes in big gulps with our eyes and our feet, knowing that soon it would be over.  We might rush along a trail to get to the destination to make sure we got to see that special vista or canyon or river.  We would frequently slow down to experience a view or a flower or bug, but underneath it all was a nagging sense of the passage of time.  If it rained on a hike or was too cold to climb to the top of a mountain, we’d be disappointed because it was our one chance, and it wasn’t as perfect as it could have been. 

Theresa roasting a marshmellow while Darby takes a nap

On this trip, our hikes are more peaceful, more in the moment, more relaxed.  If it rains, we know there is another hike tomorrow and that it may be sunny.  If we don’t reach the vista, we are content to have enjoyed the views along the way and to simply have had another day wandering in natural beauty.  Somehow, knowing that there is more time tomorrow enables us to take more delight in the moment.  Every moment is sweeter somehow because it is not tainted by longing for more time.

Even days when we travel from one spot to the next are not time driven.  We’d like to get from point A to point B sometime, anytime that day but by no time in particular.  Before dark is preferred but not required.  So, we take our time and enjoy the journey.  Our stops for gas or groceries are not timed.  No stop is too long or too short.  Whatever time we take is the perfect length of time because time is on our side.

There are just a few aspects of time that matter somewhat. The first is that we’d like to spend the summer in Alaska.  But even our planned date to arrive in Alaska has changed… by 1 month.   We’ll arrive around July 1 versus our original plan of arriving around June 1.  This is such a strong example of the luxury of time, being able to delay our Alaska arrival because we want to… by a whole month.

The luxury of time allows us to let the world come as it may and enjoy that very moment.  It allows us to be more joyful, playful, and thought-filled.  We sit for long periods of time marveling at the majesty of a mountain, the restlessness of a waterfall, the silence of a prairie, and the wandering life of a bug.  We worry less about producing and achieving, and instead focus on appreciating the beauty of it all.

Our dispersed camping spot near Yoho National Park. Can you see the waterfall in the bottom middle of the picture?  Click on it for a larger version.

One day, we’ll return to living normal adult lives.  We’ll get up because the alarm clock says it’s time to go to work.  We’ll rush to meetings and appointments because we’re late and did not plan our time well.  We’ll look forward to weekends and vacation time.  Eventually, we’ll get used to clocking time again.  Yet, we will always remember that we were ever so blessed to be able to experience the luxury of time.

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