Friday, June 6, 2014

Green Gentian Virtues

Instant gratification is the trademark of the 21st century. 

All too often, I am reminded of that by my life in Montana. Out here things move a little slower, both in nature and syphilization (civilization). Trees grow slower because of the limited rainfall and a trip to the nearest gas station for beer will take you 50 minutes roundtrip. Hiking a peak such as Emigrant is a three hour endeavor to the summit.

Waiting for a full moon combined with a gorgeous sunrise is well worth it
Real life takes time. 

Patience has always been a virtue, but that is increasingly true in this day and age. The internet has created an entire generation that only knows instant gratification, and it has conditioned the rest of us to expect it. We have to unlearn.

If you would like to take a class in this, my advice is to get outside, or take up hobbies that require it. I brew beer, which takes about a month from grain to glass, and tend a garden as well, where some plants might not even flower or produce anything the first year.

Sunflowers take all summer from seed to bloom
Hiking is a great reminder of this, as you often have hours on the trail to gaze at the scenery on the way to your destination. I would take this a step further though. Developing patience for the journey to the top is not enough.

"To travel hopefully is better than to arrive, and the true success is to labor." -Robert Louis Stevenson

The journey itself is the important part. Enjoying every minute, whether it is work or play is crucial to leading a fulfilling life. What about your job, is it fun-filled? Some people accept it as fact: work cannot be fun and you must pay your dues. I pity the fool.

Hiking in Yellowstone this year, I have seen two prime examples of the value of time. The first was in the Black Canyon of Yellowstone.

Years ago, someone stuck this elk antler in the crotch of a tree. The douglas fir proceeded to envelope it as the trunk expanded, and now it is part of the tree. Let me remind you that trees grow quite slowly out here due to the lack of rain. Perhaps it has been there for ten years, maybe twenty.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to spot a few green gentians blooming along Blacktail Creek. While most flowers bloom every year whether they are long lived or just annuals, this patient plant is in no rush. For 20-60 years it grows in open meadows at high elevations. Then, when it deems the time is right, it throws up a flower-filled stalk toward the heavens and then dies. Since every plant is on a different cycle, they can be found every summer, but it is always a treat I appreciate.

Can you get more cliché than saying that it is worthwhile to stop and smell the flowers? Perhaps not, but I encourage you to look for the green gentians in your life, or act like one yourself. Take your time. I am looking for that right lady, and so far patience has been the virtue most needed. That green gentian will bloom at some point though, of that I am certain.