That moment when you take a deep breath and your entire being slows down. The fresh air fills every part of your body, your mind, and your soul. You look around in a way that perhaps you haven’t for while. You really see your surroundings. You drink in everything about the moment. Everything stops, and a great space is created. The pressure is lifted, and the confines of life before this space was created are lifted. It is the most delicious moment.
I distinctly remember a specific moment from my younger years when I stopped and wondered if there would ever be any time to ‘just be’. I was in high school, and by choice I was enrolled in an aggressive academic calendar, piano and theory lessons and various outdoor activities. I was also babysitting and teaching piano lessons to generate spending money for the social life that I enjoyed. I scheduled everything into each week and there was very little wriggle room.
Things only got more intense during my university years. I remember my friend calling me up and pleading me to come out, just for one night. I had a habit of hiding away in the computer lab, day and night, until every last attempt had been made to finish every assignment.
Early into my professional career, I stacked up the activities until I had very little free time. Working as intensely as I had in the computer lab at school, I would pack as much as I could into the regular work day. Excited about the opportunity to do other things in the evenings, I would regularly over commit in fear of missing out on something.
It seemed like wherever there was a time slot, there was also an opportunity to fill it. Now a days, it seems completely normal for people to fill up their schedules until they are too busy. It isn’t unusual to have to book people weeks or more in advance for a simple dinner or coffee date. It appears that as a society we have simply become accustomed to doing as much as we possibly can.
When did we stop taking a moment to look around? When did we start sacrificing quality for quantity?
It feels like we have stopped living and are now putting all our energy into doing. I do think that it is very important to accomplish and to contribute. In order to achieve our goals, it can be necessary at times to plan, schedule and commit. However, there has to be some balance. Too much focus on doing can lead to people becoming overwhelmed and exhausted. The fear of not getting everything done can be draining. The reality is that your to do list will never be finished. It becomes too much when health, well being and happiness are sacrificed.
There are many ways to find a place to breathe and a way to create space. My bike has changed my life and has taught me how to be completely in the moment. I am very fortunate that some of my first real cycling adventures took me deep into the European mountains. Words can never fully describe what it is like to pedal a bike up a road to a mountain peak. So vividly I can see, feel and relive moments pedalling up the side of a mountain, completely taking in every bit of my surroundings. This challenging feat forces me to feel every pedal stroke and to put my entire physical being into the journey. I feel completely exposed. I don’t have any remaining capacity for my mind to wander away too far, thus my mental being is very present. My physical, mental and spiritual beings find themselves intertwined in a united flow, moving me slowly up the mountain.
When I am not able to travel to far away mountains with my bike, I have found ways to stop and remind myself to live life. When I forget, I lose that grounded sense. I get lost in the whirlwind Monday to Friday rush and the never ending to do list. All it takes is a few minutes to simply go and do something that will stop the spinning and bring me back to the moment. It could be as simple as a walk in the sunshine, a few minutes of deep breathing, some time to read a book, a yoga class, or a cafe on a patio. Whatever it is that works for you, don’t forget to do it. A few minutes can entirely change your perspective, your outlook, and the outcome of this day.
You owe it to yourself to take a few minutes and look around. If you keep putting it off, then you could miss some really amazing things.