When you look back on the grand scheme of things, of all the places you’ve gone and tasks you’ve accomplished, it can often be really difficult to pinpoint exact moments that have impacted or changed you in some way. Barring the big ones like meeting your partner, getting married, having your first, second or third child – can you think of smaller moments that have truly changed your life?
On a recent backpacking trip to Catalina Island with Scott, while essentially stranded on a remote beach with absolutely nothing to do, technology to entertain us, or external stimulation to consume ourselves, we spent a lot of time talking. Now, if you know Scott, you’ll know he’s not the most deeply emotional person – he spends his days operating in 0s and 1s and building “cool technology stuff.” He’s deeply analytical, and so it’s rare for him to open up about something emotional or self-reflective.
As we were sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, we got to talking about the things we’ve done together and our passions. I think the conversation started about how I half-forced him into scuba diving (it was one of the things I was absolutely determined to do in my life) and how it’s one of our most favourite things to do in the world. We got to talking about our advanced certification process and how as part of our requirements we had to do a “diver appreciation course” – basically, we had to go find a square foot section of coral and just sit and watch it for 30 minutes straight. At the time, it sounded like one of the most boring things possible – most people want to see sharks or turtles or clown fish….so we weren’t really stoked for it. As Scott and I were sitting and talking about this, Scott blurts out “you know, that dive actually changed my life. I always thought scuba diving, and life really, was about covering as much ground as you could and seeing as many big ticket items as possible; but that experience taught me that often there is so much more value in slowing down, stopping even, and taking the time to appreciate the small things.” And while up to this moment we had never talked about it, I got chills and said “ME TOO!”
Sitting and watching a piece of coral for 30 minutes was truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. When you first stop at a piece of coral, it looks pretty bland. Not much is going on. But when you hunker down and let the environment get used to your presence, things start to shift – flora starts to open, small creatures start to come out of the cracks and magical things happen. On that one piece of coral, we saw some of the tiniest and most interesting creatures we have ever seen diving – minute fish, little crabs, oysters opening a bit further to show glimpses of their pearls inside….truly beautiful and amazing things.
That experience was a life-changing moment to the old adage “take the time to stop and smell the roses.” Take a rest from the race, from trying to see all the big sights and highlights and take a moment to slow down and let your surroundings open up to you – and you’ll probably be amazed at what you find.