Maturity comes with an understanding of time.
While hiking with my brother in August of 2014, I came across this thought. We were hiking in the North Cascades near Ross lake on a trek called Devils Loop. The first six miles of the trail led to our first camp just under Crater Mountain. We would eventually make a six day loop that would take us around fifty miles through the wilderness.
The trail started at just under 2,000 ft above sea level and ended at just under 6,000 ft. It went straight up the mountain with a series of what seemed like never ending switchbacks. Some of these switchbacks were pretty monstrous and defeated their own purpose. At that point in my life it was the hardest six miles I had ever hiked.
We past a troop of scouts on the way and it brought to mind memories of a time when I too had been part of a scout troop and the great struggle of youth called waiting. Waiting to get somewhere. Waiting for dinner to cook. Waiting for the trail to end. Waiting and wondering how time can move so slow. I remember in my youth during times of travel, whether it was hiking or canoeing or even driving or flying, I would think and believe that this state of travel that I was in, of being nowhere yet in the process of going somewhere, that this state would never end. This is the, “are we there yet?” of youth. While hiking isn’t the worst kind of waiting, it is one of the more physically challenging, and watching these young men struggle up the mountain, I found myself wanting to tell them, “It gets easier. Not because you get stronger, but because you learn to accept the fact that all moments in life will pass.”
Our first camp was spectacular! A giant glacier made crater carved into the side of the mountain. A shallow lake rested at the bottom and was fed by five waterfalls of glacier melt. The water flowing from the lake was the temperature of a swimming pool, having been heated all day by the summer sun. Originally we planned on only spending one night, but with such beauty that this place held, we ended up spending two which allowed us a full day of exploring. A solid chunk of time to spend in a place and to move at our own pace. That is what time is after all. It’s a canvas for us to engage with our surroundings.
As I grow older, my perspective of time grows as well. It starts to take longer to feel like forever and even then I’ve started to appreciate all lengths of time. The waiting, the rhythmic state of travel, these have become spaces for me to remove myself from reality. In these periods of time I’m able to exercise the more creative aspects of thinking rather than being consumed by the demands of the day. I’m able to organize thoughts and ideas for projects that I’m working on, and I’m able to push aside any worries about accomplishments that are waiting to happen, melodies that I need to write, and all else that is at that moment unknown to me.
The unknown is a product of time. The unknown is unknown because it hasn’t happened yet. It’s a destination. It holds hands with the future, and the journey is how we get there. So, I wait, and in this waiting I am assured that what I’m searching for will reveal itself, and all will be well. So why not focus on these unreasonable switchbacks, and make the most of my thoughts in this moment.