The Choice is Ours: Fast or Slow

Image: Amy Lister

Image: Amy Lister

This past summer, I was on a kayak trip in Clayoquot Sound, just off the west coast of Canada. It is a remote and magical spot steeped in First Nation’s history and natural beauty. For five days we traveled, staying on remote beaches and allowing our bodies and minds to slow to the rhythm ocean.

It was early one morning, as we were setting out for the day, that I stopped paddling for a moment to really take in the beauty that surrounded me. As I paused to feel the movement of the ocean beneath my boat, I looked up and noticed the contrails of an airplane streaking across the sky.

As I sat there in my kayak, looking up at the sky, I was immediately struck by the contrast between the people in that plane and me bobbing up and down on the ocean.

“Fast and slow”, I muttered to myself.

The speed at which we go dictates what we can see and feel.

The view of the person on that plane was so vastly different than my own. They saw the beauty of the ocean from a macro, top-level vantage point. Although there is no doubt that their view was stunning — a sprinkling of islands and the shimmer of the morning sun off a rippled and endless ocean — their ability to really connect with the landscape was limited. They were moving too fast.

Yet, I was immersed in that landscape. Moving at a slower speed and sliding through the water in my kayak, I could see the majesty of the Sitka trees, feel the coolness of the water on my hands and hear the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks nearby. By moving slowly, I was able to witness the richness of the landscape in a way that filled me with pure reverence and gratitude.

I have thought of this moment often since I have been home and back into the speed and hurry of the day-to-day. Now, I am a bit better at recognizing that I have a choice — and that this choice is always available to me. I can move quickly through my day, taking a top-level and efficient approach to how I attend to things, or I can simply slow down and savour everything that the present moment has to offer.