Time is relative, and none of us seem to have enough.
Every day is measured by exactly the same number of hours, minutes, and seconds, but every day moves at its own pace, some are slow and drag on seemingly endlessly, and some are so fast you wonder how the hours were pressed down into mere minutes.
Hectic describes the pace our modern world has set for most of us, yet the days tend to slip by slow and the years fast.
How we perceive time is fascinating. Hunting is the best way I know to truly experience the essence of time.
I happen to have the opportunity to talk informally to a lot of non-hunters about every day subjects. Since hunting is my passion the subject usually comes up.
One of the first questions that usually arise after I explain a bit about my hunting is, “How can you sit still for so long?” My sits on stand almost always last five to six hours, and I have been known to spend entire days, and even several days sitting in one spot.
This seems so unnatural in our world of constant stimulation from our televisions, computers, smart phones, and chronic attention deficit disorder.
Initially, I didn’t really have an answer to how I do this except that I’ve been hunting for a long time and that I’ve grown used to it. Eventually though I realized that sitting perfectly still in wait for game is a normal, if not necessary, aspect of being human. Our very physiology as humans was created by our being predators. Most of what predators do is simply sit and wait for opportunity.
Doing nothing actively is a great way to describe hunting. When I slip into the woods with a weapon in hand –the weapon is critical because no camera will ever make food for you, and that is a fine but defining difference- and settle in several things happen physiologically.
The first is an immediate heightening of all my senses, and pointed attention to those senses. Every sound, smell, caress of wind, and movement is scrutinized for importance, nothing is ignored.
The heightening is followed by relaxation where my breathing and heart rate both slow. This then leads to a state of measured attentiveness that is complete but relaxed. I observe everything but steal away inside myself and let my thoughts wander. The best comparison is Zen meditation.
The irony of this is that it is an example of a religion hijacking a state that any experienced hunter can reach, and then selling it as some major achievement for their own twisted benefit. Buddhism certainly isn’t alone here. The point is that hunting is the original form of meditation.
That Inuit on the ice waiting for a seal to stick his nose into an air hole for hours on end is meditating through his hunt. We as humans are only able to meditate because we are predators.
So the essence of hunt is that meditation actually shortens time, and makes hours seem like minutes. After a long fall of deer hunting I can sit for six or seven hours with such ease that I am almost surprised at myself.
The second aspect of time contrary to modern civilization in hunting the simple necessity to accept time as it is. When you scout for hunting spots there is basically only one question to answer. “When will that buck, boar, or bull be in this very spot?” The art of hunting lies in answering that question.
Knowing the answer lets you know when you also have to be there. Wild animals follow their own schedule and have all the time in the world. In order to make a kill you have to simply accept the time the animals have given, you cannot force your hand and hunt well. You have to adjust your busy schedule to a natural schedule of movement over which you have no influence.
Only when you accept the reality of the time that game follows will you be successful as a hunter. Hunters have the ability to accept total reality of time as it is, not as they wish it would be.
Living in the real, here and now, is a hunter’s natural state of awareness. He isn’t fooled as easily by smoke and mirrors of virtual fantasy worlds.
The third aspect of time that hunters regularly experience is time slowing down. Every hunter will tell you fast a hunt went by on an outing where he was fortunate to observe game the entire time. The ultimate slowing of time takes place during a kill.
This experience is almost too complex and intense to describe. When a target animal approaches and a hunter decides to attempt to make a kill the first thing that happens is a jolt of adrenaline shoots through his body.
In inexperienced hunters this leads to almost hyperventilation and extreme shaking that is known as buck fever. In seasoned hunters the almost the opposite happens.
After a jolt of adrenaline their heart rate returns almost to normal and they focus entirely on their target animal. The hunter’s entire world narrows to the act of making a killing shot, to the act of making meat.
Every step, indeed every breath, of their prey is noted, and time slows to the point that perception notices fractions of seconds in incredible detail. I like to call this one pointed focus. One pointed focus is a state of absolute concentration, where the world narrows to a single point of awareness to the exclusion of everything else, and time almost ceases. This is the magic, the numinous if you will, of the hunt.
This is the point where life is the most real and utterly honest. And this is the anachronism time. The beauty of the hunt.
Hunting is the real world. The anachromism of reality is irony in a virtual existence.