Where Time Stands Still: Our Most Elusive Selves

Overall, I am not an escapist. But each summer, I return to a place a world away from my regular life, a place that hearkens back to an entirely different era, one where the best parts of rose colored memories come into play. It also happens to be a locale where time disappears for me—I have no idea where my hours go. I find myself floating in a languorous bubble of summertime dreams. This magical suspension doesn’t simply occur when I slip away to my mountain retreat, it also happens whenever I begin to write. Lost in this private world, I am routinely surprised to discover a) hours have dissipated without my notice and b) the elation I feel from this all encompassing sense of contentment.

 

What place or activity does this for you? Is there somewhere you go (literally or metaphysically) which whisks you away from your gerbil wheel of thoughts and cares such that when you finally return to your senses, you have no idea where the time went? Perhaps starting that crossword puzzle or composing your next watercolor or losing yourself on a long drive with no particular destination sets the stage for this personal shift. What does it take for you to settle into your most relaxed self?

 

It’s such a private and personal thing, isn’t it? Your answer to this question. The sorts of places and activities that provide an indescribable sense of yes to you rarely resonate for anyone else. I know someone who routinely goes to the airport to eat bad nachos and watch travelers hurry past—this is his way to relax. To me, that sounds like hell on earth, but for him, it provides an opportunity to be invisible and watch people who are far too caught up in making it to the gate in time to worry about his curiosity. Another reads music in his chair. A third likes nothing better than experimenting with different types of fondant icing and reading an issue of Batter Chatter.

 

Whatever it is that resonates taps into a murky, ill-defined part of ourselves that we hesitate to admit exists. What I mean by this is that we are mysteries even to ourselves. The inability to articulate why this particular place or activity or person strikes such a deep internal chord hints at other deep, slow currents than exist as well. We just don’t know it ‘til, all of a sudden, we realize that it makes us feel, well, makes us feel right. When we are here, with them or doing that, the pieces come together—no small matter when so much of our lives make no sense at all. I mean, come on, I bet you can list off at least three things about your immediate life situation that don’t sit right, that create dissonance for you. So, when you discover that place or person which takes you away from those out of tune compositions that drive so much of your days, it’s important to pay attention—wouldn’t you agree?

 

The irony is that this timeless retreat offers many elements which might suggest I’d be happier somewhere else. I don’t know many people, I don’t have children to broker new relationships for me, there’s not much to do, I’m not from the area, and my childhood memories aren’t replete with happy times spent rocking on the porch with supportive, loving relatives. So, why do I return year after year? I think it’s because this setting enables me to suspend so much of my most pressing worries and demands nothing from me. Here, it doesn’t matter how my hair looks or what I haven’t achieved—nobody is looking for anything from me. I am allowed to unfurl in my own, quixotic manner, in a time of my choosing. And when I write, well, the challenge of conveying effectively an idea or premise that intrigues me is the most fulfilling sort of activity I can imagine. So, to bring the place and activity together, perhaps now you can understand why I return. It actually plays a small, but important role in my ongoing re-booting process. What is this place for you? Where might you unfurl, unwatched and at ease?

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One Response to “Where Time Stands Still: Our Most Elusive Selves”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    Well done

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