Running Late

I was running late, so instead of going to my usual sit spot I headed for a small park near work. I sat on a park bench and opened my sensory awareness to the place. Despite the closeness of a main road, the birdsong was clear and lovely. The trees were just as beautiful as in any wood and the grass just as green. My consciousness slowly began to shift. My mind slowed. The birds weren’t rushing to get anywhere and the trees were in no hurry to do anything but be. The other-than-human world not only lived at a different pace; it seemed to exist in a different time scale.  People rushed past, keen to be somewhere else, somewhere more urgent.

People rushing through the park

Park time

I had left human clock time and was held in a slower, seasonal pulse. Herbert W. Schroeder of the USDA Forest Service describes a similar experience:

In contrast to the externally imposed clock-time time that normally structures my daily activities, my sense of time in natural settings unfolds through the movements and sounds of the environment, such as the rhythmic swaying of tree limbs in the wind, the breaking of waves against rocks on the lakeshore, or the steady progress of clouds across the sky.

A resting human heart pulses at round 70 beats per minute; the seasonal pulse of tree sap is somewhat slower. In the pause between beats, leaves fall and life slows with the cold. Then, as sap rises and buds form, life surges again. Next time you’re in a park, take a moment to breathe more slowly and try to sense the gentle pulse of park time.

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