Adopt the Pace of Nature

Woods by YMCA


For years now, I’ve been writing this newsletter, PAUSE MORE. RUSH LESS. And for good reason, I’ve been trying to slow my life down, and if I’m honest, yours too, so we don’t miss life’s most meaningful moments. We can only live at high speed so long before we spin out of control, crash, and burn.

I would argue we were never meant to live life in the fast lane. Think about it. When you’re in a race, your focus is only on the finish line—not the scenery along the way. The point is, our lives—yours and mine—are the scenery along the way. The question then is, are we noticing it—or is our focus only on how we finish?

The other day I was walking outdoors for exercise. My focus was on steps and pace. The faster the pace, the more steps. I came to a fork in the walking path. If I went to the left, I could see the path would circle back to my starting point. If I took the path to the right, I couldn’t see where it would lead. Would it alter my walk? Delay my schedule? I stopped. Considered my options. The choice before me? Path or pace? I chose the path on the right to see where it would take me.

I walked twenty yards in the heat of the sun before my route weaved to a shady “path among the pines.” (See photo above.) The first thing I noticed was my pace slowed as I glanced up at the tall trees reaching for the sky, smelled the refreshing scent of sap and pine needles, and felt the excitement of taking the road less traveled. My body relaxed. I sensed the anticipation of, “where does this path lead?” Suddenly, I was enjoying the scenery, having fun, AND exercising—at a more comfortable pace.

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.”

                                                                             —Ralph Waldo Emerson
The path eventually led me to a park where several families were picnicking. It occurred to me, so to some degree, a picnic has traditionally been a time to pause with family. I wondered, have picnics become a thing of the past? I remembered family picnics with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents at Petrifying Springs Park on Saturday afternoons or Sunday after church, when all the stores were closed.

It occurred to me that “paths” and “picnics” are great ways to slow down, reconnect, and live in the moment. Ever notice how much laughter occurs at a picnic? As I listened to the laughter of these families in the distance, I realized a picnic epitomizes the essence of family.

When I slipped back on the path among the pines, I walked back to the fork. I noticed how much shorter the path seemed on my return trip. Why? Gone was the thrill of the unexpected. I knew where I was going. Once more, I realized there is a relationship between “anticipation” and “joy.” One follows the other.

Today, when I think about this walk, it was not about the number of my steps, my heart rate, or exercise. It was about the path I chose and how that path altered my pace. And it was about the scenery—not the finish line.

Life moves fast—often too fast.

Isn’t it nice to know we can often choose the pace we live it—based on the path we take?

I guess Emerson was right.



SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: What action can you take this week to slow your life down so you can focus on your path—not your pace?
Photo above by James C. Magruder
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