Every year around this time a huge red and white tent is erected on the corner of the county highways that intersect near my house. Every year I think the same thing, “It’s awfully early for fireworks, isn’t it?” And every year, it dawns on me that it is already the middle of June, that it is in fact not too early for fireworks to be on sale, and that time is a capricious tease.
I swear the Earth actually speeds up its trajectory around the sun in summer, and that its maddening pace can only be felt by those over the age of eighteen.
All of the old adages about time creep to the front of my mind. It gets faster every year. Don’t blink. Carpe diem. The days are long but the years are short. And the thing is, they are all frustratingly true. No amount of eye rolling in our younger years can prevent the truth behind these words from catching up with us down the road.
There’s a large poster affixed to our refrigerator door that says, “Before You Say You’re Bored, Have You Considered…” and goes on to list dozens of activities the boys thought up for the long summer days ahead. I, on the other hand, cannot remember the last time I’ve uttered the phrase “I’m bored.” We wake up each morning and stare down the same 24 hours, yet we view the hours through such different lenses, me and my children. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to see the hours through the eyes of a child again.
But I do know one secret to slowing down time.
I do know one small trick that stops the Earth in its tracks.
Being as present as humanly possible slows the march of time.
Be right where you are.
Be with the people you are with.
Engage your senses in the task at hand.
Aiming for attentiveness in a world of distractions is not an easy task, but it is a worthwhile one, and its rewards are so sweet.
The smell of the vines on your tomato plant while you pull weeds.
The taste of rain as it falls from the sky.
The sweetness of mint chip for lunch.
The icy cold shock of the deep end in June.
The sound of a band that makes you get up and bust a move.
The way you get lost in the pages of a book.
The freckles on a sun-kissed, sleeping face, waiting to be counted.
The sound of the ice cream truck through your kitchen window as you chop vegetables for dinner.
The warm sun on your arms as you sit in traffic.
The friend’s voice on the other end of a long-distance call.
The goodbye kiss on the way to work, and the welcome home embrace at the end of a day.
We can’t add hours to our days, but we can add life to our hours. We just have to pay attention. And this is the extent of my summer bucket list this year: Be present.
“Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” – Mary Oliver