22 Aug Slowing Down To Smell The Roses
How my normal 1 hour hike became a 5 hour lesson about life…
I typically don’t have a lot of “free time” to ‘smell the roses’ or do one of my favorite activities…hiking. One of the benefits of living in San Diego is there are many beautiful hikes in the area, with one of my favorites being Torrey Pines. It is amazing because you can walk, jog, or even bike up a very steep paved hill, and when you reach the summit, you are “rewarded” with spectacular views in all directions. From 180 degree coastline views on one side, to panoramic mountain views on the the other, there is just nothing better to look forward towards during a workout.
Once you get to the top, that is where the real fun begins as there are miles of trails that are ready to explore, and ALL have unobstructed ocean views! As you work your way through all of the various trails you are greeted at every turn with spectacular ocean views, beautiful bluffs, and on a clear day so much more. When you finish the trails you descend down to the beach for a walk along the ocean as you head back towards the public beach and parking lot where it all began…which also means back to reality. Torrey Pines is a tranquil hike that puts me in a great mood always.
The one hour journey
Because I am in a perpetual time crunch and I have a “get it done” personality, on most days, I can find parking somewhat close, and be back to my car in about an hour. Not a bad way to catch a quick workout and ‘get away’ from it all…for a little while. I do this hike regularly, meaning I try to do it at least once a week. Although I always appreciate and enjoy the hike, it is always the same one hour journey: arrive, park, walk up the paved road, down the trails, along the beach and back to my car. It is auto-pilot at it’s finest, I know exactly what to expect, and I don’t think my time varies by more than a few seconds each time.
Until Last Sunday…
On this past Sunday I was ecstatic that my 5 year old daughter wanted to join mommy on my favorite hike. It was a perfect summer day which meant a packed beach on the weekend. Since the beach was so crowded, we had to park about a mile away from the start of the hike. When we got to the bottom of the hill which is the start of the hike, my daughter said “Mommy, that hill looks hard. I have a better idea, let’s relax on the rock and look at the ocean!” My normal “get it done” personality immediately went into “NO, let’s do the hill now!” mode until her disappointment took me off guard. I questioned myself what the actual hurry was so I said, “ya know what? Okay, we will sit and watch the ocean”.
Smell the Roses …like a 5yr old
We sat, we talked, we laughed…all while observing the waves, the kids, the sand, the bugs, whatever…for a good 20 minutes. At that point SHE said, “Mommy, we can go up the hill now.” The walk up the hill was long. Not because she was tired but because every plant, flower, bug, rock, person, leaf, tree, etc., was inspected by my inquisitive 5yr old. At first I was a little annoyed, but after a few short minutes, I went with it. Watching her just process her environment and take everything in was amazing to watch. It made me think how many times we, as adults, rush kids through experiences like this because ‘we’ are in a hurry or know better. It really was awesome watching an innocent 5 year old just explore new things and take it all in. In the end, it made no difference that it took us almost an hour just to get to the top of the hill.
We’re at the top! YAY!! Time to rest…
Reaching the top is typically just a warm up as you have to get to the top to start the trails. Didn’t matter. She wanted to rest, take pictures, talk to people, drink water, play with the rocks, and tell stories. I went with it and fought my “get it over with” mentality even though we were now 2 hours into our journey…and not even half way there.
Finally, we moved to the start of the trails. Unlike the walk up, the trails are not on a paved road. They are dirt trails with lots of rock, sand, and cactus along the way. As we made our way down the trails, there were more stops, more observing, more talking to people, and more watching the birds and the butterflies. Around every bend was an ocean view that needed to be captured. Finally, we reached the point where you choose a trail to head down to the beach. Instead of going on the the trail that I always take down to the beach, she wanted to explore a “different” one. So guess what? We did…
3 hours into ‘my’ 1 hour hike
Almost 3 hours into our hike, which at this point usually takes only 40 minutes or so, we were finally down to the beach. I was hungry, I was over it, and I wanted to get back to the car. My daughter didn’t feel the same way as she said “mommy, let’s take our shoes off and go in the water.”
Huh? Again, my normal “get it done, get back to the car, get going” personality was decidedly vocal in my head. I was thinking; “we don’t have bathing suits”, “if we take our shoes off it will take longer”, “we don’t have towels”, “it’s time to eat”, “the car is far”. It wasn’t easy for me, but I shut those voices out seeing how excited she was to be with me playing on the beach.
We took another hour at the beach… it was the BEST part of our hike.
My normal “get it done” 1 hour Torrey Pines hike turned into a 5 hour excursion…AND one of the BEST days ever with my daughter! I noticed things I had never noticed before. I explored new areas and I truly practiced being in the moment for the first time in a LONG time. It took work but those moments of being “in the moment” were priceless and completely refreshing. I didn’t worry about cell signal, emails, messages, my to-do list, nothing. It really was a great learning experience for me, compliments of my 5yr old.
It is amazing the sense of wonder kids have. They don’t have the imprinted experiences and memories that adults have. They enjoy the moment, take things as they come, are constantly learning and exploring, and are truly present. We can all learn from kids, whether our own or others.
That said, I am thinking about doing Torrey Pines again today, but my daughter is with her dad and I just don’t think it would be the same. 🙂
It’s OK to stop and smell the roses…