Whew!! January CANNOT be over! It feels like only a couple of days ago that I was flying back home from making what feels like a months’ or more worth of memories in what was actually only a week and a half on ILSSO. And ya know, I noticed these weird effects of memory and how we feel time passing while I was on the trip as well.
If we’ve ever had the chance to attend a leadership development conference or any type of facilitated training, we’ve probably heard the phrase “the time is ours” to signify permission to start work on the given task. Since election to state office and the deluge of training that’s followed, the phrase has become a little bit of a cliché for our team. But looking back on ILSSO, I find so much meaning in that little, benign phrase.
Beginning on one end of the spectrum of how we experience time passing, I began the trip with fourteen hours of time on a plane ride from New York City to Johannesburg, South Africa. It was such a mind-numbing amount of time, and we were all just hoping to slip through it as fast as we could. In the moment, trying to distract myself, it honestly did not feel like 14 hours’ worth of time had slipped through my fingers. I only remember snippets of that plane ride, it seemingly passing in my memory in a blip. This is what I would describe as the most negative way to experience our time. Distracting ourselves to the point where minutes and hours disappear without us even knowing and gaining little to no memories from the last stretch. And it doesn’t just happen on plane rides. Something that still saddens me is how little of my two weeks of winter break I actually used, and therefore, remember. Those two weeks without structure, deadlines, or definite tasks sent me spiraling, like many of us sometimes do, into passing the hours by in a blur of YouTube, or Snapchat, or Netflix, or insert your given distraction ___ here. Needless to say, I was not contributing; I was not happy; and I gained nothing out of it myself.
Thank the good Lord that I had something to shake up my life coming up soon. My time in South Africa could not have been more different than those blurred days of winter break. I noticed immediately that with those packed days of crazy new experiences, each moment passed slower. Each day stretched out into a week. But I was remembering every detail about the day, and those memories made me feel like I was actually living life MORE. That feeling, that perspective, is how I think life is meant to be lived, fully in each moment, making memories, and FEELING our passage through the minutes going past us. This is one of the greatest lessons that I appreciate ILSSO for teaching me. Because it wasn’t just the literal mountain top experiences that gave me this slowed down perspective. I also found myself savoring every moment during seemingly mundane moments like riding on the bus, full of wonder at the little conversations and the casually awesome people I was surrounded by.
These moments, mountain top and mindful, showed me that everyday life can be just as awesome as crazy new things too; it’s all is just a matter of perspective and finding the little, awesome things in each moment. So FFA members, the time really is ours, to use as we see fit, and to experience either mindfully and fully, or distractedly and fleetingly. Let’s choose to appreciate our moments, and hopefully, create some more awesome memories for the people around us who need them even more.
Living to Serve,