Over a Beer: Slowing Down to Live Better

There were bikes to be ridden, notes to be taken, people to network with, but Aaron and I had to stop for just a few minutes to soak in this view and crack a trail beer. Photo: Aaron Chamberlain

Editor’s Note: “Over a Beer” is a regular column written by Greg Heil. While Greg is the Editor in Chief for Singletracks.com, any opinions expressed in this column are his alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Singletracks.com.

You can think of living in the moment in two different ways. One is to take each singular moment that you have in this life and pack it as chock-full of activities and events as possible.

This is how our recent trip with Sacred Rides in BC was run. Our average day went something like this:

  • Up at 7 or 7:30 to pack gear.
  • Breakfast
  • Morning Ride
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon Ride
  • Get home
  • Hike to lake
  • Cliff jumping and beers
  • Hike back from lake
  • Showers
  • Supper from 8:30-10:30p
  • Plop into bed so exhausted that you forget to pull the blanket on before falling asleep (true story)

Now this method of embracing the moment isn’t bad… for a time. Especially on a guided tour like those run by Sacred Rides, most people want to get as much out of that 7-day vacation as possible. I mean, who knows if we will return to Fernie, BC EVER AGAIN?!

Ryan K. gets inverted at Silver Springs Lake, BC

While this method isn’t bad, unfortunately it doesn’t provide space for contemplation or meditation—the time required to achieve a quiet and satisfied spirit. This is a theme that Seneca comes back to in his writings again and again. For instance, he says, “The only true serenity is the one which represents the free development of a sound mind.”

This leads to the second way to embrace the moment: consciously UN-schedule activities and events. Take things off your agenda.

If you see a blank spot on your calendar, don’t think that you automatically have to fill it. Take time to be alone with your thoughts, to simply exist.

I’m personally trying to bring this ethos of slowing down in life to my mountain bike rides as well. Now of course, one of my goals is to get faster on the bike… and while maybe I’m trying to get a bit faster on the climbs, I’m working to consciously slow down, stop, and spend at least 10-15 minutes on the mountain soaking in the view, treasuring the moment.

What will I gain if I blow by the vista and get back to the car faster? “Congratulations, you get to return to the bedlam of cars and traffic, the distraction of screens and texts, the responsibilities of chores and social engagements.”

Yay, I win! Or maybe not…

Adding more activities can distract you for a time. But learning to find a peace and quiet that is all your own renders the constant struggle of “more, faster, now” irrelevant.