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“I think we need to slow down.”
Heath and I say these words at least once a week. Despite the luxurious sound of a seven month honeymoon, we hustle on the daily. Sometimes that means we need to write five blogs before 11am, and sometimes that means we need to drive five hours to our next destination.
Either way, we keep our hands busy.
I didn’t think life would stay this fast on the road. We top out around 55 mph, after all. Besides the whole trip is a blend of tourism, visiting American beauties, and maybe a hint of work.
But that space right in between my shoulder blades feels tight, like that feeling you get right before you pass a cop, even if you know you’re not breaking the law. The muscles clench and refuse to release, letting the stress crawl up your back and into your head. It’s a horrible little devil, that stress.
Most of my day was spent driving or walking through Redwood National Forest. The highway runs right through the park, which is sort of crazy in a beautiful way. I can’t imagine how many days of labor it took to wind the road between these oversized trees. (I choose not to believe they would cut any down). I read something about the trees being 300 feet tall, and I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know I couldn’t see the tops of any trees.
I watched elk grazing in an open field, just 20 feet away from our motor home. I’d never seen elk so closely before. One of them had an itch behind his ear and I watched him scratch it with his hoof. I found it rather impressive.
For hours, or what felt like hours, I took photos of tree after tree, each one larger than the other. They all looked so old I worried one might fall at any given moment with a thunderous, life-ending roar. It wasn’t until I sat down overlooking a stream that I realized I wasn’t really paying attention to any of the beauty around me.
“It’s funny how nature has a way of making all of life’s problems go away,” Heath mused aloud, leaning back against the wooden bench.
I think I nodded, but my mind was far away. I spent most of the trail worrying about where we’d camp, how much we’d need to pay, if there would be internet there, or when–if ever–we’d be back in cell phone range. All of the minutes I spent worrying yeilded nothing but deeper knots in between my shoulders.
And in all my stressing, I lost an opportunity. I lost the chance to marvel at the beauty of this terrain.
Maybe it’s just because we’re on the coast, but I swear it’s a rainforest inside those trees. Either way, I’m calling it a rainforest. The temperature drops 10 degrees as soon as you step onto the trails and the ground is soft. Everything is covered in bright green moss and you hear running water everywhere you turn, even though every stream is hidden between lush ferns.
But I didn’t make the most of the moment, or notice the moment. I missed the moment to sit and wonder at the trees, how old they must be, how many storms and fires they’ve withstood, how much they’ve grown. I pointed and clicked the camera to create the memories for me, commented on how the cold air gave me goosebumps, and decided to cut our trail short and turn back.
Now I’m listening to the soft rhythm of rain drops cascading on the sky light above me while the Redwood National Forest towers just feet from my window, but I can still feel that sense of distraction–as if my body were telling me it’s more urgent to worry than to stare out the window.
Most of life moves by quickly, and lately I’ve found that I’m too wrapped up worrying about the details of life to notice the larger epic of life rushing past me.