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In the Scheme of Things


Nan Russell

Apr 23, 2019

Time to Notice

Time to Notice

"People find life entirely too time-consuming." This aphorism from 20th century poet, Stanislaw J. Lec, captures how many of us feel at times. There's too much to do and too little time to do it. But for me, spring offers an antidote. It reminds me it's time to pause and notice that winter is gone and life's natural rebirth has arrived. I'm drawn to spring's beauty as trees and plants renew with bright, vivid green growth, and flowers venture toward the sun.

But in all of life's busyness, this yearly reminder to notice what's happening around me isn't enough. So, it's with that perspective that I share a piece from my journal written sixteen years ago. Finding it recently nudged me about the importance of everyday noticing; I hope it nudges you, too.

[On the shores of Loch Ewe in Inverewe Gardens, located in the Highlands of Scotland, I'm sitting in bright sunlight listening to water softly lick the grassy slopes. Across the loch, there are mountains, and sheep, and a post card village with tiny white houses. It's an image of a simpler life where nature's sights, sounds, colors, and smells comprise a world quite different from the one I'm used to. Vibrant impressions weave together as I write. I look again, a bit closer, seeing now the heather covered hills peppered with ruined stone walls. A sharp chord sounds in my brain as I note these markings of hardships and struggles.

I begin to notice my intense joy at noticing. It's not like time has stopped really. It's more that at this moment, for me, there is no time. The greens are almost too green. The unpolluted water almost too blue. The intensity of the quiet almost too enveloping for my soul. I am struck by the beauty around me. I understand why people fervently claim the Highlands of Scotland as the most beautiful place in the world.

I breathe this moment into my memory, carefully recording it alongside others in a part of my brain marked: "Pause now. Notice everything. Remember." I indulge myself as a few archived moments pop in, preserved like real-time movies: I see my husband's eyes as he tells me he loves me for the first time. I am surrounded by our protective "bubble" of new love. There's my first trip to NYC, feeling awed with sights, sounds, tall buildings and a wonderful tapestry of faces. I see our son, Ian, right after he's born. What joy. What amazing love, unknown to me before this moment of being a parent. I feel the touch of my father's hand in the last moments of his life.

I am thankful for these moments etched with vivid, exacting sights, sounds, and feelings in my brain. In the distance, I hear my name called. The memories cease. Time returns. Colors dull. As I reluctantly walk from the garden to join my companion, I stumble (literally) on a bench. Carved on the back, a message is inscribed, "Relax a while. Be thoughtful and thankful. Boshell Family Foundation". It's quite a message to find today. Too often of late, I'm going through the motions as busy routines became blurry impressions of life, and numbness hangs like fog.]

In the scheme of things, I realize I haven't breathed in enough of my life-moments, haven't noticed them enough, haven't lived them enough. How many more will I get? How many will you? That captured moment in Scotland was a nudge then and is a reminder now that noticing makes us more alive. White scrolled lettering on a sign in my house puts it this way: "For this moment is your life."

Nan S. Russell - Gellatio.png
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