Over the winter I had a remarkable number of ‘the best of life’ experiences: some new, some breathtaking—and some even qualify as “bucket list” worthy. Many days I sat down to write about my impressions, thinking there must be words to express all that I’d experienced, to share the discoveries and delights and life lessons. But for weeks, not a word came out.
One experience after another filled me to the brim. Watching the lunar eclipse in Baja: red moon bathed in a sea of stars. Kayak sailing in the Sea of Cortez within twenty or thirty feet of fin whales. We even got to pet baby whales in the lagoon of their birth as their mothers supported them to socialize with us. We saw pods of dolphins and a colony of sea lions.
We had several adventures deep-sea fishing for yellowtail. We went snorkeling and swimming in the clear waters. We witnessed dramatic sunrises and sunsets. We shared meals with friends, and enjoyed live music by my husband and his amigos.
Enough already? Can’t stand any more? My plate was filled with delightful, epic, extraordinary experiences. The WOW factor was high. From Baja, we spread stories and shared videos far and wide, until our snowbound friends were totally fed up with us. Yet it’s surprising to note that endless days of activity—even if they’re filled with the most thrilling adventures of life—still left me feeling there was something out of sync.
It is unreasonable to ask the mind or the emotions, or even the body, to absorb and process numerous experiences in quick time. When you are running from one thing to the next, the sheer volume of activities—good, bad, or indifferent—need time to settle.
When you are running from one thing to the next, the sheer volume of activities—good, bad, or indifferent—need time to settle.
So, how to absorb it? Reflection is key. I’ve learned to take some intentional pauses to let things settle, to reflect on our experiences, and to assimilate them into my life. In between the epic days I have needed to make space for the ordinary, the ones that by comparison may feel boring or without purpose. Those are like the blank canvas, the foundation for layering and appreciating the privilege of life’s offerings.
Slow down in order to appreciate life. What are some peak experiences you have enjoyed recently? How can you slow down and really let them sink into your soul? If you are feeling at a loss as to how to do this, look to nature. Just as nature was the source of many of my peak experiences, there are many places in nature that can teach us the beauty of slowing down. Watch a bird gliding on the air current. Follow a leaf as it drifts to the ground. Track the flow of a stream. It could be as simple as gazing out your window for a few minutes today, to really take in all the wonder that is in your life.
Photo credit: monkey sidekick.