In these recent, open afternoons, the kids and I have been hiking through the wetlands behind our house and into the forest beyond. They spend the better part of an hour clambering over the fallen trunks of trees while I sit on a stump with my binoculars, waiting for birds. Generally at some point someone slips and falls and needs to be picked back up. Someone steps in swamp water up to their ankles. Someone finds something new and calls the others over, and we stare at it for a while and wonder aloud what it is.
I write a lot about nature, but slow is not my natural pace. Usually I am pushing myself toward some self-invented goal, plotting out my next measurable achievement. Now, though, I am limited to letting time do its work, which means I get to learn the art of wasting it. It feels a bit like life has given me an assignment—Learn what’s it’s like just to sit here. Learn to listen. Learn to wait.