It’s an anomaly these days—we have so much time in our day (with much of it spent at home)—but there never seems to be quite enough time to get everything done. Enter in the drive thru-mentality, where food and drink is served fast—the faster the better, in fact—and we’re rushing through our to-dos with great speed. As we cross things off our list, we learn to multitask, leaving even less time to complete each item, and far less time for the “important things” that never made it to the to-do list in the first place: hugs, dinner conversation, undivided attention.
Over the past year, we’ve written about Covid from many angles. But one thing this virus has given us is perspective. Yes, we have time—time to spend with loved ones, time to work on ourselves, time to push aside our frustrations and see varying behaviors around us from different viewpoints—but how many of us really use our time in those ways? People are feeling many things right now. Some feel anger, some fear, others a heaviness in their hearts. So how do we set those feelings aside and free ourselves from that which holds us back? How do we use our time wisely—to be present with those we love and to deeply understand ourselves so when we step out from the rubble, we can peel off those emotions and open ourselves to all of life’s gifts? How do we do this without missing the movements and nuances of daily life?
The Grand Canyon
Take for a moment, the Grand Canyon. With an average depth of 4,000 feet, a width of 18 miles, and a vista that stretches 277 miles, this five to six million year old landform invites 5.9 million visitors annually. But the Grand Canyon is more than a collection of towering cliffs and flowing waters. The many colors of its rock walls provide a visual timeline of earth’s geologic history. With every changing moment, the sunlight dancing off the canyon’s walls and the cloud cover above creates a unique viewpoint that has been captured in paintings, photographs, and poetry for generations. Beyond these impressive walls, the great Colorado flows, creating estuaries and tributaries into other bodies of water. Vegetation and animal life flourish, giving these nearly six million visitors much to behold.
The canyon can be viewed from a helicopter, by a hike on foot, on the back of a donkey, or from far below, in a raft on the Colorado. But regardless of how this magnificent landform is traversed, the Grand Canyon is not only viewed with the eyes, it is felt with the soul. In looking into the canyon, we see not only the present moment, but are transported into the past. This natural wonder offers us the opportunity to look back and delve deeply. What happened all those years ago? And how lucky are we to have this tangible reminder that life moves, breathes, and continues.
Seventeen Minutes…and Learning to See
Clearly, the Grand Canyon and its surrounding landscapes offer a lot to take in. How much time might it take to really embrace the Grand Canyon and feel its presence from within? While the experience is different for each individual, its 5.9 million annual visitors spend 17 minutes on average in its majestic grasp—sort of a drive-thru version of what one might expect.
In order to experience something, you have to do more than simply look at it with your eyes. Life is multi-dimensional. When we see something, we look, smell, touch, taste, and feel. “Seeing” in the deeper sense of the word is a collaboration between every one of our senses. We were not born to just look at life; we were given this life to experience all it has to offer. Time spent absorbing the earthly grandeur of the Grand Canyon is time well-spent. When fully experienced, that visual will remain with you always. Even the simple thought of being in the presence of an artform that earth has been creating for millions of years is awe-inspiring. Surely that takes more than a mere 17 minutes to contemplate.
Be Fully Present
In our modern lifestyle, we’ve been trained to understand that “time is money” and “time is of the essence”. But is spending time checking things off a list really an answer? To be present, and to spend time wisely, we must embrace all that is around us—not just in the Grand Canyon or a similar landscape, but in our everyday lives. See the beauty in your loved one’s faces, watch how their eyes sparkle when they smile from their hearts, understand that their frustrations or criticisms are maybe not so surfacy after all. What’s hidden beneath?
Take the time to truly see. Then your time will be well spent.