Slowing Down

I'm well aware of the fact that I rarely have time to stop and think these days. My mind whizzes constantly: go-go-go, full-speed ahead. I often find myself so caught up in the craziness of life that I neglect to actually live it. I think that's one of the things that I enjoy most about photography and blogging. Capturing & documenting my life forces me to be present. Live in the moment. Pay attention to the little details. Soak it all up.

And this summer, I'm noticing the simple things more than ever before.

It's not because I have a nice break from school and have all this free time to sit back and relax. Heavens, no. I'm busier this summer than I've ever been! I work at least 14 hours a day, oftentimes more. Yet throughout the summer, I've become so much more aware of my surroundings, the blessings in my life, the opportunities I've been given. I have such a renewed appreciation for the sounds of crickets and bullfrogs and flowing creeks that harmonize together as I'm writing this little blog post. I notice dew drops on spider webs and sparks dancing in the fire, and laying in the field at night hoping to catch a glimpse of a shooting star never gets old. My body is covered in mosquito bites and the lingering smell of smoke from tonight's closing campfire... and I am happy.

This week, I biked seventeen miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail in Southwest Virginia. Upon starting the trek down the trail, the counselors split up---three in the front and three in the back, with all of the campers filling in between. Since I haven't really ridden a bike in a good ten years, I volunteered to bring up the rear, especially considering the fact that I spent the first mile of the trip shrieking at any drop larger than three inches.

However, by mile two, I was zipping along with all the confidence in the world.

(Please check out that awesome "riding a bike with one hand while taking a picture and still managing to stay on the path" skill. Do not attempt at home.)

And as fun as zipping through the woods was, once I stopped focusing on completing the 17 miles as quickly as possible, I had all the time in the world to think. To observe. To absorb. And to appreciate.

Slowing down---it's good, it's necessary, it's beautiful. Yes, there's something beautiful about intentionally living in the present, taking in the sights and sounds and smells that we so often neglect and do not appreciate nearly as much as we should. Something beautiful about seeing God through nature. Something beautiful about letting go of the "full speed ahead" mentality and soaking up everything right here and now.

There's something even more beautiful about experiencing it all with one of your best friends :)