In today’s fast paced world of iPhones and instant answers, it is easy to allow a whole day to elapse without slowing down and appreciating the myriad little wonders around us. During the short winter days along the coast, I’ve recently caught myself leaving and returning for work in the crepuscular twilight, never really enjoying some suns’ rays on my skin, or slowing down enough to stop and wonder. Well, perhaps surprisingly, our office holiday party was sent to snap me out of it. I realize this likely warrants further explanation. Every year, a group of fisheries scientists huddles together in our lobby to enjoy a delectable cornucopia of homemade dishes and desserts while enjoying tunes provided by some of our more musically inclined lab mates. This year was no exception to the above, with a surfeit of treats and tunes. It is also an annual tradition to have a white elephant gift exchange. Some of the more memorable winners of holiday parties past have included decorative toilet seat covers, a highly prized jar of homemade honey and a bevy of fish themed plates, cups and t-shirts (we are all fish nerds after all). This year however, placed precariously in the front of the long line of selectors, I found myself drawn to a small, hastily wrapped package with a candy cane drawn on in highlighter (quite the touch). Inside I found a lovely sundial watch, set to my little coastal town’s position. I immediately ensconced the prized contents behind an office plant and hoped that no-one stole it away. Once the selections had died down, the booze ran out and the last number came and went in the white elephant, I gingerly examined my new toy. For those new to sundials, they work by orienting the dial Northward and telling time based on the position of the shadow along the face of the dial. Lo and behold, when I stood squinting in the bright sun the following day, while oriented northward (there is a small compass hidden in the face), I discovered that indeed the watch told me it was 9 am… and that I was late for work 🙂 I think this little watch is additionally symbolic in more ways than one. I am reluctantly contemplating a return to graduate school for a Phd, and have been struggling to determine my direction amidst the many paths laid out by the onset of adulthood. More than anything I just want more time- time outside in the sunshine, time with loved ones, time to sit in the garden and watch the chickens destroy our walkways and munch our gingerly growing vegetables. I want to dream about travel, and have the time to read books that make me travel without leaving home. I want time to enjoy the small wonders with my close friends and I want more time to stop and appreciate what I already have right in front of me. How is that related to signing myself up for a 5+ year commitment to decreased income, increased working hours and decreased sense of self worth which come with grad school? I am not sure exactly… but sometimes we just have to follow our natural rhythms, turn North and enjoy the traces of the sun.