“My plants have grown without me knowing
My hair is longer now without me seeing
The days are long and go by quickly
Years pass and I don’t feel older
I still see through the eyes of a child
I blink and things are different
I sleep and awaken to a place unrecognizable

When did my parents’ hair turn grey?
When did my reflection change?

The golden light speaking through my kitchen was yesterday
Living through the lens of being in love the day before
It’s funny how time waits for no one.”

These are a few stanzas of a poem about time I wrote during this trip and the way it is manipulated in our lives. In our lives at home, we accept time as a linear phenomenon—something that essentially dictates what we do and the types of lives we lead. During this course, many of us have nonchalantly noted how different the passage of time feels during our days. One student even noted that he “feels like he is in an alternate dimension.” Each day is long, and we get to be more attentive and observant, yet the weeks go by quickly. In most instances, I have been astonished that it is Thursday yet again and another week has passed. Here we are at the mercy of the time the river spins, the delay of bad weather or of our guest speaker who is running late. We mark time passing by the way the light transitions from being high and bright to getting low and streaming orange through the trees. This is a contrast to structuring our days around a job, while pushing how much we can tangibly accomplish in a day. There is power in this. We eat when we are hungry and sleep when we are tired. We have no overhead lights to keep us awake and nothing pressing enough to avoid nourishing our bodies with a good meal.

I’m sure my roommates’ lives feel dissimilar to this, although we are living the same month in the same state. The same day can seem endless for some, and go by in the blink of an eye for others. On this course we’ve been away from our “normal” lives for such an extended period of time that we have become accustomed to this lifestyle. I’m grateful that we have been able to live a slower way of life for the past two months, one that fosters reflection and mindfulness (although we are also still packing a lot into every day).

In a way, slowing down and taking time to do art and journal often feels unconventional, radical, and bizarre. It’s easy to ignore these things in our day-to-day routines. It’s difficult to transcend the idea we hold, even if subconsciously, that being busy equates to being successful. We owe it to ourselves to refine what we define as success. Engaging in things that make us happy is successful. Putting time into things that gives us a feeling of sublime is productive. Taking time to interact with where we live and strengthen our sense of place is essential.

This trip for me has embodied the way our lives have potential to be. Following these sentiments and considering more deeply how we spend our time could create more thoughtful and compassionate communities. Let’s prioritize reflection, self-exploration, and expression as much as money. Connection as much as a rigid schedule. Wandering into the future, let us follow time as the meandering river that it is.

Halley Linscheid is a student at the University of Montana where she studies Media Arts and Environmental Studies. Halley enjoys doing art, slacklining, going to live music, and skiing in Missoula.

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