a duck gliding across a lake

Feeling stressed and short on time? The best way to shift out of overwhelm and find fulfillment is to stop completely, unplug outdoors, and open up to timelessness.

It was a Thursday morning, and I had just dropped off my daughter at her internship at a nature preserve. The perfect time for me to visit the lake at Foothills Park, just 5 minutes away. I relished the idea of alone time outdoors.

No Cell Phone!

The problem – I didn’t have my cell phone. My daughter had left hers at home, so I gave her mine just in case she needed to reach my husband. I won’t be able to take photos (on this visit, but I went back the next week for the photos you see here!) and worst of all, I won’t be able to keep an eye on the time. Luckily, I didn’t have plans for the day, so what did it really matter?

Boronda lake is near the park entrance – just a short drive down on the left. I stopped at the first dock and parked. It was a perfect morning – the sun gently shining and only one other person in sight. The dock was happily empty and beckoning to me.

I walked slowly over to the edge of the lake and waited. It helps to approach natural areas mindfully, so the wildlife is less likely to scatter. Juncos were softly perusing the grass for seeds with their chip-chip calls, but they moved aside for me. Three female mallards were stepping into the water as I approached, but much as I wanted them to stay, they entered and paddled off silently. So I stepped onto the dock, walked to the end, and sat down next to the edge.

The water was amazingly clear – I could see to the shallow bottom and the plants growing beneath, which I recognized from another pond at a camp my daughter and I used to attend. Then, I heard the sound of a red-tailed hawk on the other side of the lake. Was that one in a tree up high on the hill? I saw a dark spot in the foliage and wondered. But maybe it’s just a gap in the branches, showing the shadow behind it – too far away to tell. How could I know? I’d have to wait to find out.

An Opportunity Without Time Constraints

I had wanted to walk around the lake, but I was intrigued by the possible raptor – I really wanted to know if it was sitting there in the tree, and watch it take off. So I decided to be still and wait. This was my opportunity to have a nice long “sit spot” – one of my favorite deep nature connection practices that deepens my experience of Presence. I often do “sit spot” in my front yard at home, but being so close to my computer and all the “to-dos” of the day makes my sit-spots a bit on the short side. This would be a blessed, leisurely immersion away from the constraints of time.

I expanded my senses and heard the Nuttal’s woodpecker in the trees behind me to the right, and the chitter of a hummingbird on my left side. Then, I peered down in the water and watched for signs of fish. At first, there were just guppy-looking tiny fish, swimming in and out of the shelter of the swaying green” parrot’s feather” plants. I waited quietly some more; much to my surprise, a considerably larger silver fish swam into view. Wow! You really could fish here.

view across lake to hills

Over near the cattails on my left, a black bird with a lighter beak swam along like a duck – I later decided it was an American Coot. It dove into the water for long periods, and I started to count – 13, 14, 15 seconds – and it popped up several feet away. What fun! The ducks took some interest in me, and now I saw that there was a mother and two slightly smaller juveniles. They swam by within 3 feet of me, looking cautiously into my eyes.

My Vigil Served a Better Purpose

What time is it? I didn’t know, but I kept constant vigil on the tree across the lake with the dark spot, still hearing the occasional call of a red tail. It hadn’t moved. My mind went into a debate about whether I was imaging it or not. I waited some more, eager to see it take off. But my vigil served a better purpose.

The truth was, it didn’t matter if the hawk was there. The curiosity about it was simply the impetus for me to stay and drop into timelessness. I didn’t know how long I was sitting there, and I didn’t care. More fish swam through the plants, one jumped out of the water about 20 feet away, and then, to my delight, a turtle ambled by! Visits from more ducks, the gentle breeze on my face, and the warm sun brought a peaceful joy. A bullfrog caught my attention with it’s croaking in the reeds on my right. Swallows zoomed over the lake in wide arcs, snatching up bugs close to the water’s surface. I could sit on the deck all day and immerse in the unfolding stories of the animals.

The excuse of waiting for the hawk (that never launched from the tree – likely just a play of light and shadow) and the lack of a cell phone shifted me out of distraction and the perception of time. Being without a device was such a blessing. I dropped into the ease and delight of the present moment, just being with the ripples on the water, the paddling of the ducks, and the sweet sounds of the chickadees behind me on the shore.

Timelessness is Deeply Fulfilling – and Available if We Choose

At some point, I was ready to abandon the hawk mystery. It was time to leave. But it didn’t come from checking the clock; I felt filled by the sense of timelessness from simply sitting quietly outside and receiving all that nature had to offer. There was so much beauty and simplicity – what more did I really need?

Upon returning to the car, I saw that I had been there an hour. I was amazed at all I saw, heard, and felt in that period of time, and noted how deeply fulfilled I was. When I am pressured by checking the clock and looking on my device, I miss so much, and at the end of the day, I don’t feel this kind of ease. Having a long, magical “sit spot” at this beautiful place – without the pressure of time – was more than enough, though, to renew me. Back at home, I felt re-inspired and ready to write and create.

I realized that timelessness is always available to us, if we make the time to receive and experience it, away from all the things that fill up the hours of the day. Will you take the time this week to step away from the clock and devices, and receive? Share your story here.


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