A few years back, I was in a career that would make me so busy in the Fall that everything seemed a blur around this time of year. October seemed to fly by, and in my anxiety to meet work deadlines, I’d instinctively treat family activities like pumpkin picking or hiking as extra chores.
I’d hike with our family in a rush, thinking it would save time. I would get impatient when my child dragged his heels out on the trails. I’d try to “squeeze in” family time between work, because I wanted to get out with my family even thought I thought I didn’t have the time to really make space for them.
Have you ever rushed through fall family adventures like this? Have you ever gotten impatient with your child when they are ambling about on the trail?
Sometimes the pace of fall - with its shortening days - can make the hours seem limited. It’s easy to get trapped into a cycle of rush, rush, rush. But rushing creates stress, and stress encourages conflict, and what good is a family activity when conflict sours it?
It took me a very long time to come around to the fact that rushing wasn't really helping anyone. To the contrary, everyone wins when we slow down and savor the moments together. When I let my child stop and show me whatever he’s found on the trail, I get to learn from him. I get to see spiders I never noticed, the most delicate mushrooms I could not see, the most camouflaged slugs.
There’s no need to race to the destination. Besides, often the journey is just as fun.
I recently came across an old photo of my son that reminded me just how how much fun that journey can be. I took the picture while on a fall hike to Wahclella Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. While the waterfall was (as always) an incredible spectacle, what I still remember most about that hike was my child’s make-believe play along the way. All along the route he played the role of “vampire bat” with his arms spread wide as though he was flying.
I don’t get another chance to make that memory again. He’s outgrown his bat jacket and his make-believe days are nearly ending. And because of the Eagle Creek fire, I’m not even sure when we’ll have an opportunity to go back onto that trail again.
When we’re in a rush, it’s easy to convince ourselves that we can make up the time at a later date. But can we, really? This photo has become my reminder that we cannot take these moments for granted.
It’s also my reminder to make time as much as I can.
Bryna R. Campbell