I recently had an opportunity to take some time off on a weekend. The kind of time where you don’t have to deal with the outside world much, and you have a lot of quiet time on your hands to think. I spent a lot of time hiking, and reading. It’s amazing how, after a short time, one can start to become comfortable with oneself by slowing down and just listening.
I think a lot of the free space in our daily lives is taken up through music, television, radio talk shows – anything that will fill our time of silence with something – anything – to dispel that silence. I am one of the biggest culprits in that area. But 36 hours of downtime really helped me to get back in touch with who I am – and it wasn’t quite as scary as I may have originally thought.
I was watching a TED Talk recently, and one of the speakers was discussing slowing down. By doing this he said that he improved his own life, and we can all improve our lives if we let it. He used one anecdote about reading bedtime stories to his young son. All he wanted to do was speed read through the children’s book so that his son would go to sleep and he could continue on with his evening. But then the dad realized that this was one of the most important parts of the day – an opportunity to bond with his son and vice versa. Eventually the father learned to read at a speed that suited a young boy, and in turn the son opened up more to his dad – talking about his day and anything else that came into his mind. One day the boy came home from school and gave his dad a big hug and kiss and gave him a gift, an award. The ribbon had these words on it: “To Dad, who is The Best Storybook Reader in the World.”
Many great things can be accomplished by taking our time and being patient. Laurie Dirx is a wildlife photographer who did just that, and in turn she captured some beautiful photographs of wood ducks in their natural habitat (“Waiting on the Elusive Wood Duck, page 30). These waterfowl are notoriously shy and difficult to approach, so Laurie had to be very patient and slow in how she entered their habitat. In turn, they felt comfortable enough to share some of their world with her by not flying away and allowed her to capture them with a camera.
Even children and young adults can show us how to be patient and how to slow down. The winners of the Children’s Photo Contest on pages 36-40 certainly know how to observe the environment that surrounds them. Their photographs prove that slowing down enables us to capture the beauty that is with us everyday.
By Mark Stash