Time. It’s hard to predict how much we have. We’re limited in how much we can buy, when that’s even possible, and we can’t make more of it. Time is precious, and if time is money, then timing is what? 

Timing is unforgiving, always encouraging us to be here, now. Before our fourth flight of five on our zigzag path to Greenland, as we lay in the grass in Lisbon stealing a nap. (I napped. It’s my superpower. Car insists she didn’t.) Carli realized in pain, “We change time zones every flight!” We live in so many times, and eventually all we will have will be our own, Expedition Time. Maybe that’s always the truth. 

The only way to deal with this hardship is to be true to yourself. Need to sleep, sleep. Time to eat, eat. Gotta move, MOVE. We took the metro into Lisbon and walked around realizing that the real benefit in our 12-hour layover was just that, the movement. Timing of our departure had made us sacrifice exercise. Now stiff and grumpy, we needed motion. Timing makes us accept the truth. The future is taken care of on the coattails of the present. 

Timing is a reminder that we are multi-faceted beings. Carli and I are on our way to Greenland to ski across that big island. We’ve known about our departure for months, yet the timing has been hard. In the expedition world, the journey does not begin with a single step; it begins with the frustrating act of getting out the door, and it is so hard!

We’d finally reached the Minneapolis airport, the first of five airports before we’d see before Kangerlusuaq on western Greenland. Carli said, “I’m never doing that again,” referring to the final 48-hour push to pack up, clean up, eat breakfast with friends, be surprised by this things we’d forgotten but not really forgotten. There’s something about timing. You can prepare well logistically, remembering all of the pieces, yet nothing prepares you for the culmination that must happen.

There’s a tension in human beings, or maybe just the likes of me, that builds. I think it’s an acknowledging and a gathering of the layers that are there…before you can really start peeling them off. All of your life comes together in that moment, like donning on of warm clothes, hat and mittens, before heading into the cold, and it’s a struggle. It’s like each piece is its own organism that must hang on until the bitter end. But really, it’s just too hot, and we know it. Finally we start to let them go in the shedding that only starts when you must get out the door and start moving. Getting out the door is hard because we like being a bit of all of our pieces. Only then can we let them go one at a time as we take our steps forward, gathering heat with the momentum of every step. 

Lastly, timing is purposeful. When we pay attention, there is meaning in the timing of things. Ten years ago today I reached the North Pole. Looking backwards, there is still a lot of meaning in that, in my friendship with my North Pole partner, but to me purpose is subtly different. Meaning looks backwards and makes sense of the world. Purpose aims forward to make sure the world aligns with our sense of who we want to be. 

Ten years ago I was sure we were successful because of who we had been. I was mostly right. Now I realized that to choose to take the time for another expedition because of success and impact of that moment, is purposeful. I am choosing to bring together all of me for this moment right now.

If time is precious and expendable, the timing is an unforgiving reminder that we choose to live the lives we lead. 

Each moment is bringing together everything that we are, always. When we realize that, we can create an even better present.