You would think that sitting is rest and walking isn’t, but on Day 4 of our family train trip across America, we have changed all that. We were supposed to arrive last night at 9:30pm or so. Our train — fending off tornadoes, thunder and lightning, avoiding other trains on the tracks — thought differently and we arrived 7 hours late into Williams Junction, Arizona. We made it to our hotel room at 4:30am and went to sleep for another 5 hours or so, having basically been on a train for 2 1/2 days straight with maybe 1 hour total away from it.
I think the train would have been more restful if we had a) stuck to our original plan and b) hadn’t been explained to each time we slowed down or stopped. We waited in anticipation that we would make up time, only to be disillusioned when the train had some other reason to slow down. We were somewhere between in our seats and on the edge of them for 60 hours or so, and that gets draining.
Today, instead of going to the Grand Canyon (one of the highlights of our trip), we pretty much decided to do nothing and have no schedule. We had one thing to do the whole day: drive through Bearizona Wild Animal Park, a kind of drive-through zoo where the animals roam free on big swaths of land or rocks. It was wonderful. I saw things I didn’t know existed like white bisons, and mountain goats came up to our car.
You know what animals do most? Sleep. They sleep, or wake each other up to play. Some times they eat, sometimes they clean themselves, sometimes they pace. Mostly, though, they sleep. Nothing that these animals did could be called productive work. To be sure, some of them were building nests or stalking their prey, but none of them was working just to work. If they had something to do, they did it. If they didn’t, they slept.
As humans, it seems that we forget what our natural selves should do, and establish a new “natural”. People are valued if they’re doing something. Bears are just bears. People stay up around the clock to meet deadlines. Owls look for food at dawn and dusk and that’s it. People work really hard and play really hard til all hours. The porcupine sleeps and eats. It may climb a tree to do it, but that’s all the work you’ll get out one today at Bearizona.
I read somewhere recently that until the Roman Calendar came into existence or was replaced by the Julian Calendar that we now use, people had no sense of time, date, or anything. As we travel and reconnect with ourselves, we lose track of time and it changes us. You learn to live in the moment when you don’t don’t exactly know what moment it is. What day is it? Not sure. What time is it? Dark or light or time to eat or time to sleep. Perspective changes when we detach ourselves from our schedules and just are. Things take time, we say. When you live in time, rather than against a schedule, time is all you have. The idea that things take time is no big deal.
If a watched pot never boils, and minutes go by excruciatingly when you look at the clock, things just happen and time flows when you don’t care what time it is. You exist within that flow as well and don’t worry about things so much. There is a movement called “Take Back Your Time” and I think they’re onto something when I get in this space.
Lack of recess for kids, lack of vacation for adults, lack of unscheduled time for teens — we miss our center when we get this way, and we get sick in our souls schedules are imposed on us. You only know this if you stop, and I encourage you to stop until you notice the change.