Slow Down, The Journey is Now

I rush through life. Where I’m going I had never been certain, but I was always certain it was a better place. I was certain through persistence and will I would inevitably conquer any obstacle before me to obtain the greener pasture. An inner peace, calmness of mind free from worry and abundant in certitude awaited, so I picked up speed to hasten my crossing of the finish line.

Certainty is a liar. The journey is now and all that awaits in the end is death. This conviction is no more apparent than when I find myself in the wild or perceive myself to be. Away from the pressure of modernity with lungs full of mountain air or traversing a rocky trail to see thousand-year-old hieroglyphs is the journey to the finish line. Enjoying the company of those who provide you hope of humanity and help you see the humor in life that occupies the spaces between Points A and B. The spaces that matter.

A student once asked me, “Mr. Mora, why are you walking so fast?” I told him I always walked fast, and he said, “Slow down, and enjoy life.” I hope through the course of my lone year as an educator I provided words of wisdom that had the profound impact on my students as that student’s words had on me.

Life is a marathon run at a moderate pace, not a sprint. This cliché has helped me enjoy the now when the future is ever present in my mind. I meditate, run and do yoga to help alleviate the Sisyphean exercise of agonizing over the future. The future is simply the now that has yet to happen, so it’s a worthless amaranthine exercise of futility to spend so much of the now fretting about the future. Nature provides a relief from this ouroboros of misery more than any of the aforementioned exercises.

A weekend trip does the trick. A weekend trip recently did the trick for me. I spent the weekend – less than 48 hours – in the Superstition Wilderness with my cousin and the ember that has forever lighted my heart. The Lost Dutchman State Park is less than an hour from my home but a world away nonetheless. The minute we pulled into Gold Canyon to begin our short hike to the hieroglyphs my inner child came to life and I could have happily bounded up the trail, but I didn’t. My companions slowed me down, and, for the first time in my life, I was grateful.

The desire to be first or the hurt pride when others passed us no longer mattered to me. When we stopped to catch our breaths or take photographs while hikers of all ages and sizes passed I didn’t internally huff and puff as I usually did. Instead, I looked at my wife and felt an incredible sense of happiness that she was hiking with me. A woman of comfort happily decided to spend her weekend in the wilderness in pursuit of her new career and better health. I looked at my affable cousin and enjoyed his nonchalant attitude. He has an innate ability to shrug everything off. And, I actually took in the beauty that surround us. I noticed the cacti, ground squirrels and the beautiful mountain landscape that provided a layered perfection of the Earth’s continual creation, destruction and recreation.

After the hike we were famished and decided to try a place called the Hitching Post that my boss had suggested. We arrived to a parking lot littered with hundreds of motorcycles and their companions. I pulled to the side and got out my phone to look for another establishment when my cousin suggested we try the restaurant. The idea hadn’t even occurred to me. If war has taught me anything it’s to avoid areas that look fraught with potential conflict. Turns out the place has the best wings I’ve ever tasted. We found a quiet table outside and ordered our drinks and food. I felt sorry for the waitress who seemed naively sweet but had a long day contending with the masculine attitudes of yesteryear.

We visited the old ghost town on the Apache Trail after our late lunch. I shared ice cream with my wife and watched as her and my cousin roamed around like foreign tourists photographing everything in sight. Makes sense, they’re photographers. After putting my cousin in his place at the shooting gallery, we went to the campsite and were instantly intrigued when the park ranger told us about a night time lecture on bats. The presenter was everything you’d imagine a person to be who devoted his life to bats, but the information was interesting. Furthermore, I was assaulted three times by a kamikaze bat on our way back to the tent.

I attempted to start a fire, but quickly grew more attached to my beverage. My cousin failed in this endeavor as well, but my wife used her inner “Carrie” and the logs were instantly aflame. We played a silly card game, watched the fire and practiced nighttime photography. I was genuinely happy, and I sensed my better-half enjoyed it too.

I was the only one who slept well. I’m a furnace, and they’re both cold-blooded lizard people, so I enjoyed the cool air while they froze. But, we all had enough energy for a morning hike before reluctantly heading back to reality. We didn’t make it to the top because of a time crunch, but I was okay with that. It didn’t matter because we would do it again. We saw wildlife, enjoyed each-others clumsiness and goofed around while clamoring over rocks.

I will always have a type A personality. But, I’m learning to focus that energy when it’s necessary and slow down whenever possible. The wild truly has a call, and it’s a siren that I gladly let pull me into the deep end. Unplug, detach, grab loved ones and see nature. You’ll be better for it.

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