We were sitting on the chairlift (usually we avoid anything serious, but this isn’t serious as much as it is just practical), where we pass so many of our intimate details, jokes, news and gossip, and this topic came up. Somewhere in between the Cats and Birds, fart jokes, adventure ideas and inside jokes we were talking about the passing of time. I was relating a story to a friend about an episode of RadioLab (www.radiolab.org - if you aren’t on board yet, get on board, then donate some money to the cause) that I had recently re-listened to. The episode touched, but wasn’t centered around Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Read more on that here.
So much of our lives pass us by in a series of unmarked, unregistered moments. None of these moments is any different from each other, but sometimes a moment can last an eternity, and sometimes the weeks speed by, escaping any chance to grasp a moment of free time. Leg 3 of my travels this year has brought a revisitation to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and we moved into Panama nearly a week ago. This period has been an absolute blue of events, a time-capsule of movement and energy. I was reminded of our conversation on the char lift some months back.
Inside this analogy, we have been the light, we have been the rocket ship, the solar winds, whatever, take your pick. So much has been packed into the past nineteen days, that we have in effect made time slow down. The past nearly three weeks have been a stiff cultural, physical and emotional cocktail. We knew that we wanted to cover some solid ground, but ended up essentially traveling much more than anticipated. We had barely allowed ourselves any time to rest prior to arriving in Bocas del Toro, and are so much the better for it. There were several nights that we spent back to back nights in the same hostel, and each felt like a blip in the timeline where we were able to unwind, relax and revel in the sun, surf or friendships at hand – but we were quickly back on the road again each time.
It hadn’t really hit me until we landed in Bocas how fast we were moving, and I could feel my body slipping out of the temporal molasses and into a more relaxed pace. The past three weeks may well have been three months at home. We have traveled close to 6,000 miles, inland, jungle, on the Pacific, and on the Caribbean, and are currently in Panama City, trying to figure out our next move. When we slowed down, and were able to relax a few days away, we could literally feel our muscles melt into the twin mattresses with a palpable relief.
In the first week, we had already traveled by boat, bus, semi-truck, hitchhiking, plane, taxi, micro-bus, motorcycle, bicycle, and on foot. We seemed to cover an immense amount of terrain. We were on the road. It took an immediate departure from this heavy schedule to see in fact just how fast we were moving. As any traveler will tell you, it is impossible to really know any place in just a few days; it is paramount to slow down and really delve in if you want to know the unknown. Having experienced the shift into a slower pace of life, I can feel the days peeling off at a faster rate. We still try to keep our days busy, but it feels somehow different when you aren’t constantly changing scenery.
As a person, I find it is easy to slip into the predetermined, rote, unconscious movement of life. One of my daily goals this past year has been to more fully take advantage of the time given to me. Waking up earlier, planning my weeks, assessing my goals every single day somehow enables me to slow time down around me until at times it feels like I am drifting through that temporal molasses on a daily basis. Simply walking faster, showering more quickly, living more Spartan or setting limits on your leisure time can trim the corners that you never needed in the first place. I have never been one to watch TV (preferring instead to while away hours playing RPG games), but I can tell you right now, you would be absolutely shocked at how many hours you can spend sitting on your couch.
Tynan has a remarkable write-up covering Time Investing vs. Time Spent. I am trying to invest all of my moments, from here on out.
Photo from the water taxi back to Almirante, Bocas del Toro, Panama. March 26th, 2015.