For many years, I was wrapped in busyness. Like many in today’s hectic society I rose early, rushed through my daily routine, collapsing exhausted at the end of the day, hardly knowing what I’d seen or done that day. A slave to the spreadsheet, the telephone and email, under the control of the Men in Grey, hustling from meeting to meeting, life was blurred. And then my body screamed “HALT”.
Nowadays, life is simpler, my body and mind are healing and my time is more often my own. Admittedly, my lower earnings have tailored my outgoings and the ageing process slowed my activity. However, I regard this all as a blessing, for at last I have time to enjoy my senses. Now I urge you to pay attention to yours wherever you are, for beauty may be found everywhere.
I am privileged to be in the home of my choosing and the situation, if not planned, at least also preferred. As I step onto the deck each morning, my little terrier eagerly joining me, expectant of our daily routine, the weather is the first thing to assault my senses. Salty air, everchanging riverscape and seasonal themes demand to be tuned into. Whether warm or cold, sunny or grey, I immediately note the wind direction, the state of the tide and the variety of wildlife to be seen and heard. The mood is set and a fresh, new day beckons.
Today the cracked, unmade-bed of the seawall path stretches out before my hairy companion and I, and the mudflats glisten in the pale morning sunshine. Corn buntings jangle from atop the fenceposts and a distant curlew calls mournfully. The cool, spring breeze encourages me not to linger at Marjorie’s Seat today and I only pause when spotting a familiar face, a fellow dog-walker, with whom to pass the time of day.
No matter how much work there is to be done in a day, there is no point if your soul is sleep-walking. Getting things done may satisfy a busy person but when you are dead and gone does it add to your epitaph? Well-being, that phrase of the moment, does not thrive on stress or frantic activity, it demands that you carve out some quality time and wake up and smell the roses! Stop, look around you, pay attention to your surroundings.
Now you may say, “but I am far away from the countryside or coast; seasons and weather barely matter to me. I see nothing of nature”. Let me ask you to park that thought, step outside and open your senses wide. No matter where you are, no matter how concrete or urban, you may still feel the sun or wind, smell the scent of a flower in window box or planter, touch water in a fountain, watch pigeons courting on a nearby ledge or hear sparrows squabbling in a nearby hedge. You just need to slow down enough to notice.
Feeling those senses wake up and take notice means you are alive, living, not dead. Taking time to sense is essential, particularly in a busy schedule or a time of stress. So switch off that auto-pilot, take a seat in life’s driving seat and start to really live. Now listen for the song from your heart…
“and I think to myself…what a wonderful world…oh yeah”
(Louis Armstrong, Thiele and Weiss.)