After a month on the road I’m beginning to understand what draws people to this lifestyle. A fellow traveler commented RVers are like turtles because we carry our homes with us and we move slowly. Usually my life is more like a sand crab than a turtle. Head down, I work furiously to finish my latest project. Digging fast enough opens a little well of time but it is instantly filled up with more things to do. Like the dogged little crab I rarely get out of the hole I’ve dug myself. One of the reasons I wanted to take this trip was to reconnect with my inner tortoise.
A current television commercial portrays a fit, fashionable woman smiling and spinning through her day, multitasking like a maniac. When I see it, I want to throw up. The message is clear: Do more! Move faster! We move so fast now we don’t even have the time to use whole words—we communicate in bits and bytes. Look around and you’ll see it in our pinched faces— we are tasked to death.
I am a planner, I usually use down time to organize my to do list and prioritize projects, my focus turned inward. But this afternoon I engaged in the time honored camping tradition of sitting outside in the shade. Just sitting. Waving to the neighbors or having a chat if someone ventures by. Watching the birds soar overhead and seeing the life and beauty all around me brought into focus how much I’ve been missing.
When I was a child there was very little I missed. I knew the names of every flower, tree and shrub in my small world. I could identify each bird by its song and often amused myself hearing my whistle echoed by the Mockingbirds. I knew all the animals, domestic and wild, and the names of the cats and dogs for four blocks around. I clearly recall the sweet taste of honeysuckle and of summer peaches plucked warm from the trees. The intoxicating scent of gardenia blossoms and how their creamy petals would turn brown if my fingers touched them. I knew who lived in our neighborhood, what time they had dinner and what would be on the table from the cooking smells wafting from open windows. And I can still recall the verdant dampness of thick, green grass and the way it made my bare legs itch when I laid down in it to search for images in the clouds. Simple days, filled with abundance. I long for that again.
Slowing down means paying attention, being mindful. Slowing down should be the easiest thing in the world to do—but it’s not. I know I have a long way to go to master it again.
This afternoon the movement of a small animal nearby interrupted my reverie and brought me into focus. I realized I’d been inside my head again but allowed myself a smile because at least I was still for a while. It’s a start.