I have lost count the number of times I have been on Orcas Island. I have not lost the significance of those moments on the island. I have not lost the wonder. It is one of the truly quiet places that speaks loud with silence. It begs to be seen slowly and quietly. "The quiet comes by kindness too, and brings me nearer home." – Wendell Berry.
The first time on Orcas I photographed this road as I drove down it, capturing the speed of light in the trees during the heart of summer. I was enamoured with the size and tunnel of the landscape. There is a saturation in the air, the colors, the size, and magnitude of everything that stands against the sparseness of the alpine desert landscape of Colorado. When I first arrived on Orcas, there was a lot happening in my life, a lot of New taking place. Life felt very much like the image of hyper-speed and light portrayed in this image.
Quite a few years have passed since that photo and accelerated life. This time, I walked that same road. Slow. At dawn, alone with the fog and birds, on the edge of spring. Rilke's words, "Have patience with everything that remains unresolved in your heart," from my reading over morning coffee played over and over slowly on that walk. There is still a lot happening in life, but it isn't so much New as it is Unresolved. Maybe the transition into the second half of life is about moving with patience into the unresolved questions, knowing they may never find resolution.
Abraham Heschel wrote, "We must not forget that it is not a thing that lends significance to a moment; it is the moment that lends significance to things." He argues that we are culture obsessed with things and making spaces sacred when the truth is that Time is what makes it all sacred. So how do you use your time? How do you let time be of the essence, so much so that you slow down your living to enjoy the moments?
Orcas Island is a beautiful space and location but it is the moments in time, at different times in my life, that make it more than all that. There are other locations in which I have had significant experiences – be it a surf break in New Zealand, a mountain trail, a river, a coffee shop, or restaurant – but it is what happened there that made them so and not the place itself.
Learning to slow down enough to appreciate the time at hand is an ongoing art. You do not need to travel to a Pacific Northwest Island to learn the sacredness of time. It may be only a matter of turning things off, and from where you are walking instead of driving...
"Deliver us from distraction.
Slow our heartbeat to a cricket’s call.
In the green torpor of the afternoon,
bless us with ennui and quietude.
And grant us only what we fear, so that
Underneath the murmur of the wasp
we hear the dry grass bending in the wind
and the spider’s silken whisper from its web." – Dana Gioia