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Where Did the Time Go? 

Awakening Your Inner Hero: A column to help locals live a kinder and more courageous life

Where Did the Time Go?

As many of you know, I am a recent resident of Bend. My wife Wendy and I have been here six months, after living in Flagstaff, Arizona, for 50 years. We're still a bit disoriented, but we do know how to get to a few more places in Bend this month than we did last month. Especially Wendy.

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Whenever we talk to either old friends from Flagstaff or our new friends and family in Bend, we are nearly always asked the same question: "How are you adjusting to your new lives?"

It's a good question. People care about us and are concerned about our well-being. To be uprooted after a half a century of wonderful lives in northern Arizona can't be easy for two older folks.

Whenever asked, I generally ponder this thoughtful question to make sure I am not offering up a rote answer to their inquiry. I slow down, take a breath or two, and replay the past few days. How am I really doing? Images float into my mind of recent happenings. Invariably the images that appear are nearly the same every time I search for the answer.

I see one or both of our grandchildren, Livi and Lyza, skipping, running, holding hands, sometimes holding an umbrella as they make their way from their back door to ours. Nearly always smiling every step of the way. The trip takes from 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the day. After nearly six months of watching them come down the hill, we still can't quite believe this is our new life.

My answer to the question, so far, has been, "We can't believe how lucky we are. We're adjusting very well!"

Yesterday we celebrated our daughter Jessie Ann's birthday, the remarkable mama of Livi and Lyza. She was 39. Where did the time go? Fifty years. Thirty-nine years. Six months. Thirty seconds. And I am going to turn 75 this week!

Time keeps rolling. Everything that happens, happens in time. Time is always going whether we are or not. What is it? When is it? Is it a friend? An enemy? A partner?

As a counselor for many years I have seen, both in myself and my clients, that time can be all these things. But lately my concern about time and how we deal with it has increased. Stress levels seem to have grown. Palpable anxiety is creeping into all age groups, from our young ones to us elders.

Livi's pediatrician told Jessie the other day that he has never seen so many patients feeling anxious in ways they hadn't before. I am also seeing stress levels increasing in my clients. How about you? Your family, friends? What are you noticing these days?

Sometimes it's hard to spot when we're all in it together. We live in a culture that worships doing. If we are doing, then we are being productive, making progress. We're being responsible, helpful, worthy. Do your homework. Clean the house. Work overtime. Work out. Do this. Do that. The more we do the more productive we are. We have become experts and even addicts at filling up time.

With so much to do and limited time to do it, we tend to fall into the all-too-familiar hurrying pattern. Ironically, hurrying rarely, if ever, provides us with more time. We make more mistakes, which means we need to make corrections, and that takes more time. We get edgy and short with the people we love and that takes more time. There are hurt feelings and resentments. Not great ways to spend our precious time.

The path to creating more time, or at least slowing down time, is to take our foot off the gas pedal and be less productive—in the traditional sense.

Productivity and progress come in two distinct ways. One is in the outer world, the world of doing where we actually change or create things. This is the familiar one.

The less familiar one and the one most of us need more of is the inward journey—a journey to continue to reveal our own essence, purpose and path to self-improvement. This journey slowly returns us to who we truly are and who we've always been.

And this takes its own sacred time.

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