And despite all of this, as we reminisced, none of these details were what we talked about. What we remembered instead was the absolute magic of seeing the beauty of Scotland, together, from the seats of our bicycles. We are in complete agreement that the speed achieved while pedalling is just about as perfect a speed as there can be for sightseeing. We felt like we were moving all the time, and yet going slow enough to really take in the details. We could stop whenever we felt the need to take a picture or just to take in a view.
Rhonda and I felt the same about our trip this past summer when we cycled from Canmore to Jasper. We were so lucky to have 3 ½ days to spend cycling along the Icefield Parkway, seeing the breathtaking Rocky Mountains at just the perfect pace. We had time to look around and breathe in the experience, and at the same time we felt like we covered some good ground each day.
Jim and I have talked about walking trips we have heard that others have done. Other than one like the Camino, I think the pace would be too slow for me. I really don’t need to see every single rock and hedge; I’m good with the general notion that we are passing by rocks and hedges.
I’ve long thought about running across Canada. Really. I am pretty sure the window for that has passed me by but it’s still in my deep pile of ‘things I secretly long to do’. The truth is, just like walking would bore me to tears and I’d feel like I hadn’t really seen anything, running would likely give me the same result. I wouldn’t be bored. But I would be puffing and panting so hard, I would forget to stop and take in the sights. What a shame it would be to run across our country and not see a thing!
I’m lucky I have the choices I do about which activities I participate in. More and more, the articles I read about good health, and aging well, tell us to keep moving. They say that sitting is the new smoking. And even though I am a ‘mover’ I am going to respectfully disagree with the latest research on sitting. We are not doing too much sitting. In fact, we are not doing nearly enough.
I contend that more sitting would add much more life to some of our years.
This past week, I went for a coffee with my daughter, Kaitlyn, and our friend Donna. Donna’s family has recently suffered a heartbreaking loss. Heartbreaking. When I knew Donna was back home, we arranged to get together. Driving over to see her I had no idea what to say. I also knew that there was nothing I could say that would help. And that there were likely things I could say that might hurt. And that most likely the very best thing we could do was to simply sit with her.
And so, on Monday, in the late afternoon, we sat. And we talked. And we cried. And we laughed. And we hoped. And we prayed. But mostly, we sat.
Life moves at an incredible speed. Busy is the new status symbol. We are encouraged to keep moving. Most days we have to keep moving, just to keep up. Sometimes we are walking through our lives, so focused on every tiny detail of our own that we miss the bigger picture. Sometimes we are running so fast we can barely breathe, let alone focus on what we are passing by. Other times we are cycling, just enjoying the scenery so much, we forget to notice the struggles of our fellow riders.
It is only when we stop completely, when we sit together, that we really understand the importance of simply being with each other. This rare, rare gift, costs us not one cent, yet is priceless.
In some of the most difficult moments of my life, the absolute most precious gift I have received is that of someone sitting with me. It has not been their words. Nor the treats they brought. Nor the advice they gave. It has been the simple gift of sitting together. Of knowing someone was willing to be by my side when I wasn’t sure I knew what my next step should be.
My work schedule has me running these days. I’m ok with that, and in many ways, I love it. I love having full days and feeling accomplished at the end of them. In the midst of it all, I am reminding myself to notice places where I can sit. I am reminding myself to seize those fleeting moments when I can either offer a comment or advice as I go about my busyness, or stop and sit for a minute, silently saying, ‘I am with you.’
Yes, our hearts need the kind of exercise that comes with moving our bodies and pumping our blood. But they also need the kind of exercise they get when we fill them to capacity as we sit together.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Where can I sit?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She has particular expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth, she’d love to sit with you as you examine your or your organizations next steps.