It’s finite in nature, the most valuable commodity, yet can’t be saved. Time. Arbitrary yet essential.
Within the human construct of time, we begin each day with 86,400 seconds. There’s no carrying it over to the next day. There’s no taking a loan against future days.
And it can only be spent on experiences.
A lot’s been written about it being better to spend money on experiences. But, irrespective of money, time is the single most important component of an experience.
The years have taught me the value of intangibles previously taken for granted and have given me an appreciation of experiences. Some call it mindfulness. Others might say it’s living without regret. Those terms are too abstract, they are actions.
On my part, there hasn’t been an unconscious or unintentional espousal of these concepts. Rather, it’s the life lessons learned myself or through others around me that prompt the incorporation of experiences in the finite time available. Changes I’ve made aren’t pervasive, but even the little things can be enough.
It’s been a slow buildup. It started 11 years ago when I picked up that first fly rod. Prior to that, spinners were my weapon of choice, with no strategy. Walk up to the water, cast to one point, then fan out to cover as much water as possible.
Fly fishing changed that. Even the simple preparation is a meditative process. Before stepping near or into the water, there’s the selection of flies, assembly of the rod, running line through ferrules, tying on leader and tippet. Depending on conditions and the water, there may be waders and boots to put on, a wading staff and net to attach to the belt, vest, or pack. You’re finally ready to look at the water, to study its flow, speed, depth, and the boulders, tree limbs, and vegetation affecting it, and where fish might hold. Now it’s time to cast, but to specific targets. Hooking a fish validates your analysis. Not hooking a fish prompts reconsideration of the depth of your fly, target, and fly selection.
All of this requires a focus that excludes all else, at least from my mind.
Motorcycling, if done properly and safely (mindfully you could say), requires much of the same attentiveness. Gear comes first; pants, jacket, helmet, gloves. Then check the bike – tires, brakes, lights, mirrors, clutch and shift lever. There’s no room for a lapse in situational awareness. A motorcycle puts you at the mercy of the world. It’s more than just cars. Roadway hazards include gravel, leaves, water, oil, expansion joints and bumpy patches, train tracks, and debris in general. There’s a refrain in motorcycling: one should never ride when in a hurry.
A recent change that introduced a small but satisfying experience to my daily routine is switching to a safety razor. It was suggested by my wife as an alternative that would reduce our waste output. It was intriguing. For the cost of a set of disposable razors that might last six months, I ordered a decent razor, shave cream, and blades enough for at least a year. There are benefits not initially realized: the shave cream is all natural with a subtle but pleasant scent that’s reminiscent of the past and somewhat calming. It has a richness not duplicated by the fluorescent stuff that comes out of cans. It has thirteen ingredients, less than half in the canned variety, most of them easily pronounced.
It takes a bit longer to use a safety razor, warming the whiskers, lathering up, waiting for the cream to soften the stubble, shaving in such a way as to address the direction of the growth of the whiskers, rinsing, and then applying balm. There’s a satisfaction that come with this ritual; a ritual that requires making time, but one that’s become a gratifying part of my day.
As for time itself, there’s my newfound appreciation and (not inexpensive) interest in mechanical watches.