I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately. Did you know that it used to take two and a half weeks for a letter to travel from the first station of the Pony Express in St. Joseph, Missouri to the last stop in Sacramento, California? Using a stagecoach or steamship as your delivery system could earn you a month or more of travel time before your news made waves at its intended destination. Needed it to cross the Atlantic? During hurricane season? So. Much. Longer. And then you get months more of wondering if your letter arrived while you wait for their response.
Today of course, such a wait time would likely release a stream of profanity-laced comments on the mail carrier’s Facebook page, multiple negative Yelp reviews, and the clear expectation of a full refund for the inconvenience of it all.
The inconvenience of not knowing—of delayed feedback. The inconvenience of waiting. Inconveniences that many of us find intolerable in today’s world.
I’m typing this on my birthday and just saw I received a cheerful note from a friend in France. The moment she typed it, I read it. Instant gratification. And this level of swiftness is prevalent throughout our lives today. Pizza should come in 30 minutes or less. If we post an Instagram photo, we’re checking it five seconds later, baffled (okay, annoyed) at the slim response of only three “likes” in that half a breath’s worth of time. If we start a diet on Monday morning, by our second cup of no-cream-no-sugar-no-fun-put-hair-on-your-chest-black-as-night cup of coffee, we’re eyeing our smaller sized jeans to possibly go try on (or so a, ummm, friend, once told me).
You can get an oil change over lunch, grab fast food (that we expect to be ready in the 45 seconds it took to drive from the speaker to the window) and eat in your car so you don’t waste a moment of time getting to the Next Important Thing. When news breaks around the world while I’m asleep, my phone takes note so as to alert me the moment I pick it up in a long stream of alerts written in all caps just to underscore the urgency I should be feeling to take in all of the movement happening in all of the places in all of the world while I succumbed to the weakness of being unconscious and still.
It seems as if our global pace car just keeps speeding up and I can feel my foot drop with a fierce leaden weight on the gas pedal of my own life. Always trying to keep up.
The truth is… I don’t like driving that fast.
And it makes me nervous when you do too.
This is why the month of April is so important to me.
I lived in a ski town long enough to still think of April as off-season. To this day, my mind can pull up a crystal clear memory of finding a warm bench on the sunny side of a now silent street and stretching out across it so that all the sun’s rays touched all the winter-cold parts of me. Smiling as my toddler boy played in melting snow piles and newly revealed mud. No cars to worry about, no place to be, and only the occasional spring bird or passing biker ringing their bell in cheerful greeting to break up this glorious skin warming and breath deepening.
While Montrose may not have as stark an “On” and “Off” season, I have found since moving back, that our April holds just as many moments of restful joy. My favorite being the gentle green sprigs poking their brave little selves up out of the thawing ground. Those buds can’t be rushed. They were planted last fall and have been patiently waiting for months for the entire planet to tilt again at that perfect angle, shooting needed rays of sunshine that cue them to start reaching up for it. I love to sit in my garden this time of year and revel in knowing both their skin and mine are thriving on this slow spreading of warmth.
Same can be said of our interactions around town. They slow. And that makes them better. Gone are the bodies huddled in coats and face-covering scarves plowing head down from car to destination and back again. In their place we begin to see uncovered smiles, and wind-swept hair, and blushing cheeks out in the open and turned towards the light. We do less racing past each other on the sidewalk and more pausing, more time-taking, more conversation having. And it’s lovely.
Time-taking is lovely. And I’m grateful for every April that reminds me of this. My wish for all of you reading this is that you’ll find a way to take one moment out of this next week and be still with it. Close your eyes and let the heat on your skin guide your face toward the sun, and stay there until it spreads across your spirit completely. And may many such moments of peace find you this April, and for all the months yet to come.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
― John Lubbock, The Use Of Life