Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Gift of What You Notice More


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.

10 comments:

HappyCampers said...

What a wonderful reflection on life! I

Johann Rissik said...

Thank you Kent.

jqfrederick said...

Actually, the Steve Miller lyrics are "slippin, slippin, slippin, into the Future"---which is even more perfect for what you describe! You show up a half hour early, and that time that has "slipped into the future" is there, waiting for you, as you described perfectly!
As Johann said, Thank you.

Kent Peterson said...

jqfrederick,

I'm well aware of Steve Miller's lyrics, but I disagree with him. Time slips into the past, not the future. I do like your interpretation, however.

Anonymous said...

I'm the motorcyclist that wished you well in Lincoln, MT during your race. Your perspective on time is just what I needed today. Thanks.

Cecil "Zeke" Yount said...

What a timely posting for me! We did our new and newly returning riders group ride tonight, which is done a cruise or slower pace. I saw things in my own hometown that were new to me! Fits nicely into your post... I'm getting better at "hastening slowly!"

Thanks!

Zeke

Anonymous said...

What I say (fairly frequently) is that life is too short to be impatient. I am having a problem with 12mph (my usual preferred speed, too), though - if I ride that on the roads around Renton, I get pulled over for "Impeding Traffic," and if I ride the same speed on the Cedar River Trail (best route home from work), I get pulled over for speeding. Makes you wonder. Val

jimmythefly said...

Thanks for the perspective. I learned a saying a while ago: "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast." It wasn't bicycle-related when I learned it, but it rings true for me in more situations every day.

Anonymous said...

Ride on! I'm amazed at the varied interesting things I encounter regularly by bicycle. Fascinating strangers, beautiful flowers, friendly dogs, wonderful conversations, provoking thoughts -- all would be foregone, sacrificed to speed if I drove a car. Life simply moves most smoothly at bicycle speed.

Anonymous said...

I like your perception on life, and biking as a whole. I am going to school right now in california, near LA and I miss my old home in washington for the exact same reasons that I read on your post. I miss being able to not care about being on time, just going with the flow. I lived in a town of about 4000 people and I rode my bike around everywhere (city, xc, and downhill, considering there are lots of great downhill and xc trails where I live). I felt nostalgia come over me as I read your post, I love california, but I hate the rush, the traffic, the city and the need to set a schedule in order to be somewhere on time and not be late. Thanks for your inspiration.