August 18, 2012
Cape Perpetua, Oregon.
We live simultaneously in parallel universes. Each has its own time zone. Sometimes shifting between them isn’t easy.
The sun is just rising. I’m trying to pack up and leave after a week of living in coastal forests, but something is pulling me back. My mind is confused. My hands are thick and clumsy as they try to take apart the tent poles. My heart is aching.
I hear the tumbling of the stream singing just beyond the trees in front of me. How come I haven’t been listening to this music? I let go of the tent and wander over to the stream. A melody without begining or end, touching on eternity. (Sound of the stream.)
The leaves of the tall trees on the bank reflect the early morning sun. Back at the camp site a big crow stands stands on a picnic table, crowing expectantly in anticipation of food scraps that will soon be his.
Biological time. No way to measure it. Body rhythms, getting food, eating it, eliminating it, sleep, wakefulness, movement, rest. Interaction of the web of life within itself and with everything that surrounds it, movements of sun and moon and stars and wind and water. Huge, subtle, fluid, beyond measurement. I taste it here in the forest. Something in me doesn’t want to leave.
I have to get in the car and drive four hours so I can be at Portland International Airport to pick up Wendy when her flight arrives. This requires a time zone shift — to commercial time. That’s where we spend most of our days, measured by our clocks and aps: airports, business, schools, government, entertainment, dinner dates — it’s how we get things done and coordinate with each other in the present state of human civilization. It’s the zone where we experience the ordinary stress, anxiety, pressure, hopes and fears in our lives.
Then there’s a third parallel universe — soul time. Infinite, boundless. Always available. I know how to get there, and so do you. For me, it’s where I go naturally when I’m in the forest.
I go back to the tent and the camping stuff and get everything packed up. Without functioning well in commercial time, I wouldn’t to be here in the forest, or have a car, or food, or a marriage, or friends. Without biological time, I’d be divorced from the web of life. Without soul time, there would be no real purpose to any of it.
I check out the clock on my iPhone and start up the car. I plan to be at the airport an hour early, plenty of time to deal with any contingencies and greet Wendy when she arrives.