I follow a number of different blogs from bloggers around the world. Themes (or is it memes?) come in ebbs and flows. For a while, Sheryl Sandberg provoked a rash of commentary on working outside the home mothers versus stay at home mothers. The latest theme I have noticed is one of pausing, stopping, reflecting, slowing down, enjoying little moments and looking at life quietly.
First, it was Amber at The Usual Bliss, who discovered her quiet place with the mountains. Then Caitlin Kelly, the broad behind the excellent Broadside blog, went walking in the Grand Canyon and had a few epiphanies about silence. There were a few others as well, and articles in the local paper. This got me thinking. Does my brain ever stop? Am I ever truly quiet, truly still? Am I ever at rest, aside from when I am sleeping (and based on the weirdness of my dreams, I’m guessing that my brain doesn’t rest then either!).
Physically and logistically, with the number of bodies in my house at any one time, I am fairly constantly on the go. When I am not working, playing taxi driver, chief cook or laundry-washer, what do I do? I read, I am on the internet (reading news and blogs) or Facebook, I am emailing. What about when I’m not doing that? I’ve started walking again recently and swimming, and these are the times when I am probably at my quietest.
But even when I try and empty my mind and be conscious of nothing but the water flowing past me, or the sound of the wind in the trees, I find myself counting my steps, wondering what the inside of that house looks like, seeing how much further those people have built their rock wall in the last few days or concentrating on how my arms are entering the water and lengthening out my kicks. The concept of an empty mind, filled only with quiet peace, is very attractive in this busy world of ours, but does not seem to be something I can easily achieve.
Then the question comes. Do I actually need to learn how to be still? Will that refresh me? Is my brain just a busy one? Do I need “still” in order to have balance in my life?
If it’s not quiet and still, then what does refresh me? The walking and the swimming does, although it is hard going. Writing refreshes me. Seeing beauty in the world around me refreshes me. More and more the time I spend with my children refreshes me – along with all the normal challenges they present!
So perhaps what I need is not to be still, but to be less busy. To place more importance on simple basic things and less on technology and activities. To be more aware of the beauty around me – to stop and really look at it.
My boys and I went for an amble the other day. We had no agenda and no time frame. We played cops and robbers at the park, looked at a large motorway development near our house, and spent some considerable time pondering the meaning of these markings on the pavements. We all had a lovely time, and at the end, the boys wanted to know when we could do it again.
This tree made me pause, then stop the car and take a photo. I have it as my wall paper now and it brings a smile to my face every time I swipe to unlock.
The sun broke through the clouds on my drive to work this morning, and those fingers of light came down and touched the stormy sea in the harbour. It wasn’t safe to stop, but the sight of it lightened my drive.
And how about these crazy beautiful blossoms against the bright blue of an early spring sky?
I’m going to try and be more aware. To appreciate the beauty around me. To enjoy small pleasures. What about you? Are you able to be still or do you need to be still? How do you do it?