A a perpetual student of science I find myself wondering about a fairly standard “human” thing to do. We measure everything. Sure this is critical for science, engineering, medicine, architecture and a host of other endeavors. But should we do it every day to Every Thing!? Should we measure the things we do for fun?
Inches, stones, millimeters, pounds, grams, Miles, seconds, bushels, pecks, hours, degrees, angstroms, dollars, increments galore!
I am not wearing a watch for this trip. Somehow I wake up every day. The sun seems to bring me around most often, but even foiled windows at a bright parking lot don’t keep me sleeping. We’ve found when we leave campsites in relaxed fashion after a good breakfast and cleanup, it is almost invariably 10:00 AM by the clock in Marfa. We are noticing the sun more, tracking the distance and time we can safely hike or pedal before sunset by “feel”. Only for the longest or most arduous treks like into a canyon do we note the take off and midway times/points for safety.
We have a nifty borrowed device from John, a hiking GPS that can track, then display every step or ride we take, then plot it out on a topographical map. Even play the trip back in fast motion, three minute time-lapse to show the “track”, the speeds, and the elevation profile. It would probably even show little detours for drinks, snacks or sneeky bathroom breaks. Then we can compare maximum speeds, means, and every detail for recreation or relocating a place. We have used it for a few hikes and a few rides. Another friend Richard, showed us his “smart phone” app that would do the same for every training ride. You can include a heart rate monitor and track every calorie burned. We could track and measure every inch, every experience of this whole trip.
We don’t want to. I am beginning to feel one of the forces that drags people down is measurement applied in unnecessary ways. I don’t measure music, art, love or any of the natural joys. I don’t measure a sunrise or sunset. I don’t measure the compression felt in a ski run, or the sweeping glee of twisting on a trail. I don’t measure my cat, nor my meals or squeals.
As a machinist I measured the thickness, diameter, length etc of parts in thousandths of an inch. For function, parts need to fit together and be interchangeable. A human hair is ~.003″, or about three thousandths, paper is also about that same thickness. In the right positions we can easily feel this thickness, one page of a book slipped back can easily be felt by your fingertips. A hair in the wrong place, like your eye, seems like a log. But it is just these innate measurement capacities that eliminate the need for a tool to measure every thing.
We have a general idea how far we have driven at the end of a day. Should traveling less make us feel it was not a good travel day. Mountain biking is notoriously slow compared to road biking. We typically spend over two hours to ride ten woods miles, including breaks and pictures. Just because I could ride 30 miles on the road in the same time, is it wasted time? Certainly not. In fact, now that we are alternating hikes and rides so gloriously frequently, I want measure less and less.
See if there are areas where measurement lessens your joy and throw the bum out. We’ve even had numerous events where trying to “get a picture or capture the moment” detracts from the actual moment.