Dar Williams writes about "the gift of what you notice more" in her song The Blessings. I've been thinking of blessings, the gifts we notice more, in relation to time and the pace at which we live our lives. It's a theme I've often revisited on this blog, from Bogart's observation that the world is three drinks behind to my own appreciation of life at twelve miles per hour. As time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin' into the past (Steve Miller writes a catchy song, but he's wrong about time) I'm learning to slow even more. Sometimes twelve miles per hour is too hasty.
For estimating purposes, while biking in the city, I use the figure of ten miles per hour and then add my fifteen minute flat tire buffer. In a vast majority of the cases, I wind up going faster than ten miles per hour and I don't have a puncture enroute and thus I give myself the greatest luxury, the thing money can't buy. Time.
The benefits of slack time manifest in myriad ways. Traffic is thicker than usual? No worries, I've got time. At the coffee shop a half hour before I told my buddy I'd be here? Great, that's why I have a novel and notebook in my pack. Wonder where this side road leads? I'll check it out, I've got time.
My favorite thing about the time I gain by going slow (think about that one for a bit) is the gift of what I'm free to notice. What prompted me to write this was the Leatherman Mini Tool I found on yesterday's ride to Seattle. Like Thoreau with his arrowheads, I often find things. My wife has often expressed the opinion that "you are the findingest fellow I know." She also sarcastically observed as I showed here the little Leatherman "yeah, 'cause you don't have enough tools!" It's true, over the years I've found what I need and much, much more.
While sometimes these gifts are things I hold in my hand, as solid and strong as a real steel tool made in Portland, OR or Duluth, MN (my favorite found 6-inch wrench was forged at the Diamond Tool and Horseshoe plant that I used to bike commute past back in Duluth), often the blessing is a stranger I have the time to meet, a view I have the time to notice, or a tiny creature scurrying across the trail. It's a beautiful world and the time we spend here is a blessing. It's a lesson I keep relearning, very slowly.