• Austen Hayes

Taking Time

"Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."

~Lao Tzu


We love going "to the country", leaving the confines and bustle of city behind.

When we arrive, the inner clock, the same whirring motor is at play - we're conditioned - accustomed to being speedily (and impatiently) moved along by the person behind us whose pressure we feel at the coffee bar, the jarring "beep" of the car horn, mysteriously timed to blow the same second the light turns green, a caller's shallow breath revealing their wish for us to get to the point and not waste their time, or the barely listening doctor, rushing through a ten-minute per patient time allotment dictated by an administration, in turn dictated to by the weight of insurance companies, 'running' the practice of medicine.

The rush is not entirely bad. It can be enlivening, exhilarating, feeling the self a part of a large, vibrant energy. In the throes of a city's wild, moving current, it can feel good to be moved along - as long as the person in front of you walks in a straight line, as fast as you do.


Out Of The City


Then there's the country; traffic a little slower, people a bit more polite, conversations drawn out, lots of hand waving and head nodding to and from people you've never seen before, mornings slowed, evenings ending in deep sleep.

Maybe...


Share The Road

Yesterday, returning from an errand, I noticed - as we do - something out of the shape of things...the eye is drawn to a dead animal, a fallen tree limb, or anything standing out on flat, grey roadway. This is the brain at work - keeping us safe.

I saw a small - I would say, "tiny" - grey, very slightly humped, furry figure barely to the right of where my tire would hit the pavement in the next 5 seconds. The car before me sped on, still, this small, rounded something never moved. Odd.

I continued, then yards ahead, decided to turn back. I made a U-turn, then another, until I was behind this something in question. If it was alive it was too close to danger...I had to see.


I pulled only slightly to the right and jumped out of the car...now fearing I would find whatever it was injured or dead, "This is silly - if it's dead, there's nothing I can do...if it's injured I'll feel helpless...". It was the shape, the slight hump, that caused me to stop. It would be rare to see a dead animal even slightly upright.


It was a baby squirrel, all of four inches long, with a tomato-red tail of equal length. I had never before seen such a tiny squirrel. It was motionless. I still wondered, was it injured or no longer alive, but intact? Why was it not moving after all the blowing air and rumbling sounds of speeding cars?

I saw the hump move ever so slightly - up, then down - it was alive. But, why not moving? It seemed fixated on something - what I can't say. An insect, a nut, a worm? Whatever it was, this little being was oblivious to what was going on around him.

As I moved closer, it felt my presence and scurried into the bushes, out of harm - at least for the moment. All animals instinctively flee danger but danger must be perceived in the first place - humans can imagine, and so prepare for danger, animals respond when it's upon them. Was this tiny creature born near the road, had it begun life in the midst of human noise...? It had no expectation of threat until I was right there - inches away.

Before stopping my car, I was wrapped in thought, a bit tense, so much to do, so much to take care of... but that small opportunity to provide safety for a living, breathing creature, particularly one just starting out, changed me..."Whatever happens today, I'm happy".

Maybe it's a small thing in the scheme of this big life. Maybe inconsequential. But, it caused me to think about the rushing we do and how in that rushing, we not only miss a lot of what matters, sometimes we cause harm.

Freedom; a Privilege to Be Used Wisely


As the open road signals freedom, it can lead to loss of thought for anything else. We put those unaccustomed and unprepared for our hurried, 'important' lives, at risk. The fox carrying its young, the crow swooping down to pick up food, the family of slow-walking pheasants, the fickle squirrel running first one way, then the other, the chipmunk, so fast we're not sure it's there, the handsome tortoise-shelled turtle, so slow we can miss it completely - they may try, but can't get out of our way fast enough, even if it means their life.

And that running motor - that rush - drives us to fail each other - to not look into the eyes of someone serving our meal, half-listen to a child telling their story, offer little more than "uh-huh", to a friend's announcement of success, ignore the signal from the person who wants to share their sorrow, miss the magnificence in the eyes of the those we love - we're 'too busy'... with what?

The thrill of the rush may be our excitement, our sense of personal power, our need to believe in our importance, but for others - man or beast - it may mean something else, something we or they may never do again. Please take time.

Note: Please forward this blog post to someone you know. And, ask friends and family to sign on to the subscribe list...thank you. Austen Hayes


Sharing Walnuts In Central Park

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