10/08/2012

Torn wonderment, come closer to read

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09/04/2011

Bring happiness and hope to hundreds of strangers


Today we are on a mission to create happy moments for strangers which will last right through summer.

We will be planting sunflower seeds all down the wire fence of two city wasteland areas near our home. And in several weeks time, there will appear seedlings and shoots followed by giant sunflowers smiling at everyone who passes and thinks, “how did those sunflowers get there?”.

And this simple thing will bring smiles to hundreds of people and perhaps the wildly surprising sight of giant sunflowers, heavy with yellow petals and seeds will bring unexpected hope to fatigued minds.

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere get yourself a pack of Sunflower seeds for mere cents / pence, find a piece of twig to use as a dibbet (thing to make a hole in the ground for your seed) and plant your seeds in forgotten, abandoned or neglected areas. Plant either in the rain or after the rain when the soil is still wet. You will be surprised at the *thrill* guerilla gardening brings.

Sunflowers, flower of children and simplicity, bees and butterflies, are easy to grow. Of course you might want to check the tiny plants now and again so you can feel your heart swell with the growing seedhead. If you plant your seed next to a wasteland fence you can tie the growing stems to the fence to secure them to stand tall.

I’m sure you can see that quite apart from the simple joy you will bring to others, you are making a soulful statement about bringing simple joy to the world and actively planting seeds of happiness in those forgotten, abandoned or neglected areas of your heart.

Guerilla gardening for the soul, planting seeds of boldness, you watching your happiness grow in the sunshine, giant sunflowers staked against wasteland fences,. It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Image “enjoy the simple things” borrowed from Parada Creations. Available to buy.

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15/12/2010

Powerful healing for you, here and now

I met someone a few months ago. An extraordinary person. Her name is Jackie Stewart and she is one of those divine people who seem to have a magical connection to cosmic threads and who uses this gift to help others.

Jackie helps people like you and me heal emotionally and live our life’s purpose, harnessing potent flower and crystal essences to do so. As we think, “how can I be more fully in alignment with my true self and what I’m really here for?” Jackie helps us re-align with our soul’s purpose.

I had a flower essence consultation with Jackie recently and am so grateful for how she has facilitated deep, gentle healing with me first by listening and then by applying her knowledge of the human psyche and flower essences to create an individual combination of essences for me.

Knowing what a wonderful, wise and wild woman she is, I asked Jackie if she might write a guest post for Inner Wild Therapy. Her response – the guest post she has so kindly and beautifully written below – resonated so deeply with me that I after I read it with a lump in my throat and then re-read it with tears of relief and healing running down my face I rather selfishly held it close to me for two weeks before managing to share it with you!

I am a Child of Moss. And you are a Child of ……?

“When we were little children we played without planning, we invented, created, imagined and laughed. We followed our joy and did as we pleased. Way back before anyone told us we couldn’t or shouldn’t; before we noticed what other people thought.

What did you imagine? …… What did you create? …… What did you play?

If we cast our minds back to childhood we find lost parts of ourselves. Like Hansel and Gretel we scattered trails of crumbs for our adult selves to follow. A crumb of creativity here, a crumb of crazy invention there, a crumb of joy here, a crumb of possibility there.

Following the crumbs leads us back to more of our true selves; our unfettered authenticity.

Last summer I revisited the landscape of my childhood on the West Coast of Scotland. My grief about leaving it overwhelmed me and I howled to the trees and the sea. I grieved the loss of the land I will always love and the child I had almost forgotten.

Revisiting that landscape carried me back to a childhood of nature and creativity. The mossy woods where I made dens in upturned tree trunks, climbed trees and hid on Sunday afternoons until I knew it was too late to go to Sunday school. The hills where I unearthed adders from stones, tried to catch fish in lochans and rolled in the heather. The fields where I followed bottles down burns until they bobbed in the sea where I guddled in rock pools and called to the seals.

When I wasn’t playing outside I read books, drew pictures, invented imaginary worlds and made things. I was transfixed by the Antiques Roadshow and dreamt that my handmade boxes, doll’s clothes, perfumed envelopes and storybooks would become heirlooms for people in the future.

Every birthday and Christmas I asked for drawing paper. I drew people and flowers; they seem easier to draw, more beautiful to capture than anything else. It’s the same now: people and flowers inspire my work – together people and flowers are my work. These childhood joy-crumbs have become the passions of adulthood – the very essence of what I put out into the world.

Last year while I wandered through bog and hill my childhood felt close enough to touch and a rhyme emerged in my head.

I am a child of moss, bog and scree..I am a child of woodland and tree… I am a child of waves crashing free… I am a child that was borne of the sea.

I’d forgotten how much that wild child was still inside me wanting to play outside. I’d forgotten about the need for solitude that wild places have hewn in my soul. I come from somewhere so wild, remote and devoid of human touch that I carry that same solitude within. I’d underestimated how much I need space and silence.

I hadn’t realised why chaos, loudness, crowds and clutter are so cacophonous to me until I stood there in calm, open stillness. I saw myself with a new understanding. Space and silence are part of my very nature; without both I feel like I am suffocating. Many times I’d felt the suffocation but hadn’t quite realised why.

Remote landscapes shaped me, solitude defines me and my creativity flows from quiet spaces within. Now I live in a different landscape but my inner compass still points west. When I feel out of sorts I walk westwards, following the crumbs for glimpses of wild and the sound of silence.

If you look back into your childhood you’ll find the crumbs you scattered. Be gentle and curious but you better be quick. Leave it too long and you might not be able to see them anymore.

So close your eyes. Journey back to a time in your childhood when you were really happy. Doing something you loved. Where were you? Was anyone else with you? What was the weather like? What were you wearing? Who was your best friend? Your worst enemy? How did you feel? Call back the atmosphere of this time and allow the details to emerge in your awareness. Call these memories into your heart and find the golden thread that links the Then-You to the Now-You. Breathe deep into the reconnection and remembering.

Your inner child wants you to remember the child you were so that you can be the adult you were always meant to be. Creative. Wild. Joyful. Free.”

- written by Jackie Stewart, Flowerspirit. You might like to connect with Jackie yourself – you will find her lovely gentleness on Twitter @JSFlowerspirit and of course on her website: Flowerspirit.

Images of Puck’s Glen, Argyll, Scotland borrowed from photographer, Jason Smalley. See more of Jason’s breath-taking nature photography at www.jasonsmalley.co.uk. You can even purchase his images which exemplify his ethos of ‘connecting to nature through the craft of photography’ at Wildscape at Redbubble.

Jason and Jackie also create an artful and powerful newsletter, Essence of Wild – have a look and enjoy.

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19/10/2010

Are you simple?!

It strikes me as ironic that the adjective “simple” is used by the less loving among us to insult a person. In Scotland, “Are you simple?!” means are you dumb, stupid, intellectually-retarded?

It’s ironic because so many of us actively pursue a sense of simplicity, a stillness of mind, a simple way of being. As a complex individual I even think that a state of genuine simple-mindedness might be a form of self-actualization.

And this leads me to the glory of our indulgence in simple Autumnal bliss the other day (and yes, I do believe we did look ‘simple’ while we enjoyed it).

We had a woven basket and into this basket went Autumn leaves of every shade of green, yellow, gold, brown and red you can imagine. It’s so lovely to have an excuse to study the intricacies and minutae of our local neighbourhood – this day it was leaf collecting.

Huge sycamores in reds and brown, little beech leaves with serrated edges, birch leaves in shining buttery yellow and gigantic horse chestnut leaves – and oh! heaven – round, smooth, rich brown shiny conkers nestled in their perfect spiky green cases all velvety soft and yielding inside. We press them to our noses to smell as if their luscious looks weren’t enough for us.

And now, perhaps dropped by a fairy, a tiny acorn cup. Maybe this Leaf Fairy spilled her honey nectar drink when she dropped her acorn cup? Maybe a pixie stole it?

The basket is full, leaves blowing out as the wind rises. We rush through the long grass coated in rustley leaves thinking of newly fallen snow. We meet one of our neighbours – another lovely everyday thing; the chatting with neighbours. She sees the basket of leaves and bursts to tell us that even though she is in her 60′s she still rushes through crispy leaves in the Fall – she conspiratorially tells us she seeks out big piles for crunchy, scrunching, runching ravaging!

We smile. The dog is walked. We are tired too. We are all very simple you see.

Home. Block wax crayons. White paper. Leaves. Rub.

At the table we make stupendous graphic art, homages to nature, in moments just by rubbing a crayon over paper over a leaf (see above).

A simple thing. Simple art from simple leaf beauty. We are the only people in the whole world to have seen the detail of these leaves, their veins, skin, breaking down fibres, fading colors and seeping moisture.

Yes, we are simple.

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03/09/2010

Being what you believe

You know how you can just be mooching about a website, aimless, (which is very nice) and something piques your interest and you have a closer look and next thing your mouth opens, you take a sharp intake of breath and suddenly the whole world is a more magnificent place?

This exquisite short film gorgeously directed by Pascal Perich with ‘Whispering Trees’ music composition by Marcy Hokama follows the beautiful gentle soul that is painter and sculptor, Jason Tennant who is such an inspirational example of being what you believe and aligning your life with your values that I wanted to share him with you.

Jason gathers vintage, sinewy remains of American Chestnut trees, cut in the 1930′s in an attempt to save the forest from blight, carries them in his arms back to his workshop cabin in the woods and then he honors these natural masterpieces with his potent artistic spirit, sculpting them into wildly majestic art.

“I look for really deep forests that look like they haven’t been tampered with for at least 50 years” says Jason. “I try to tell a story;  nature vignettes ….. I want to maintain a sense of wildness in my work.”

In this beautiful film, created for Etsy as part of its This Handmade Life series, Jason talks quietly about his ethos – in creating his “Nike of The Forest” series he says “the Greek Nike is one of my favorite gestures … it’s a hopeful choice, a triumph of the balance of humans and nature ….humans learning to respect nature so we can temper our greed, so we can maintain this beautiful planet for our children.”

Image, Nike of the Forest III, is borrowed from Jason’s Etsy shop – Available to buy! What a wonderful world we live in.

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26/08/2010

Wild is the wind ————> and so are you

Recommended: listen to David Bowie’s beautiful rendition of Wild is the Wind by Dimitri Tiompkin and Ned Washington while reading.

It’s so easy to forget about nature and the wild forces that are the backdrop to our tiny life plays and sit-coms.

We knew it was windy. We even heard the shipping forecast that morning spoken in hushed, hypnotizing tones telling of gale force 11 winds gusting to … something, I forget now. And out we went loving the gusting, the big breezes and the clouds spinning in the sky as though the universe in which our Earth resides was a centrifuge.

Off we went, skipping, to walk the dog with — what else but a huge, bright pink balloon? I made absolutely no connection at the time about the powerful affinity of the wind and a helium-filled balloon.

Let me introduce you to the balloon. My child had given it a name. I’ll just let that notion sink in for you. OK, it was called “Alice”. And Alice had already had many adventures as a balloon-person with a pink ribbon tail and a face drawn in black felt pen – it was a “she” and my child had chirruped various stories about Alice.

She was doing this when suddenly I heard “MY BALLOON!”. Balloon? Oh yes ‘she’ was a balloon and here she was, no – I mean there she WAS for now she was already metres up in the air and as I felt relief flood me that some angel had stopped my child from instinctively reaching for the escaping balloon and her pink ribbon which would have taken her onto the road, I also felt the rising of a quagmire of conflicting emotions.

It was exhilarating watching Alice the pink balloon with a felt-pen drawn face and pink ribbon zipping higher and higher, further and further away with a speed that had our mouths hanging open.

The wind. The wind had snatched Alice and she, so floatily, fit-to-bursting full of lighter than air helium was crescendoing with her natural element. We stared, we saw again the pale gray clouds slewing like a torrential, flooded river across a vast sky. Alice the balloon becoming smaller and smaller in our sight as she was carried by air currents higher and further away, away, away, northwards.

It was exhilarating to imagine how that must feel, to be in the wind and part of it, losing yourself to it, having no sense of where you end and the wind begins (I am an Air sign, can you tell?!) the freedom of flying with no attachment, being freed from a ribbon anchoring bond to earth via a child’s hand.

But it was also achingly sad. We were bereaved. We weren’t ready for Alice to go, to be snatched away so suddenly in her prime, not even a little deflated yet. A shock. Watching her, a lone, alone little balloon person in a vast sky of gray wind was stunningly upsetting. How awful it would be to be so alone in such vastness.

We stood and watched and in about a minute Alice was so far away she disappeared completely. Gone.

What would happen to her?

I will spare you the hideous thoughts of seals choking on a pink balloon burst on rocks in the North Sea or a small plane crashing because of a large balloon being sucked into an engine. I could make a very long list here of horrible consequences but notice I am not. That way desperate sadness lies.

And so  I brought all my snatched remembrances of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingstone Seagull to bear on the situation. Pink balloon named Alice not like a seagull at all but no matter!

I began a monologue about Alice dancing with the wild air currents, soaring and sliding, moving so fast she might make it all the way to Greenland, or Sweden, Norway or, if the wind changed direction, America even.

Alice was going wherever the wind took her, floating high and light and with no attachment whatsoever, the dangle of her pink ribbon a kite tail now. She was filled with air, like the wind, but helium weighs less that the wind I said.

My child was sad – but good, healthy sad. And she did not fixate on the balloon that was Alice nor the excitement of the wind and so it all seemed fine. Natural.

All things have their own lifetime, short or long and we need not grieve when they go for something else awaits to replenish our joy if we can but see it instead of staring too long after a disappeared balloon and wallowing in the torment of relating ourselves to imagined things like Alice’s situation, projecting our own neuroses on it with what might happen to Alice, for example, as though we were experiencing it ourselves. (This is one of the down-sides of having a well-honed creative imagination.)

The positive carefree soaring high was as powerful and real as the sad sense of bereavement and loss. Both are important emotions to feel and deserving of attention.

As humans we are made to, like flowers and plants, always turn to the sun; to please the mind with thoughts of wonderment and things that make us happy, to notice in things as bizarre as the sudden flight of a pink balloon named Alice with a felt pen face ways we can be braver, better and more inspired. And always know that nature is with us, helping us and showing us if we simply watch and allow ourselves to feel – to be like a beautiful balloon tossed and rushed by emotional forces, going with them, letting them blow all around us not matter how stormy or conflicted they feel because we are human and being human is a fine thing.

Image “Sending and Receiving” borrowed from Keith Dotson — Fine Art Photographs. Visit his Etsy Store for more beautiful images. Thank you for making the world more beautiful Keith.

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30/06/2010

The case for constraint

Perhaps like you, I resent being thwarted or trapped by some external constraint.

I have often rushed at these immovable things like a bull at a gate, with the same results of a sore head.

However, that was until recently. I’ve discovered, through nature, how fruitful such solid outside constraints can be. Twice this year I’ve seen the kind of ripe power that can burst forth after a period of life-strangling tight confinement.

‘How strange that constraint can create a build-up of awesome energy’ I thought (completely forgetting about bondage restraints and water dams) as I watched my “winter pansies” and “Lidl strawberries” produce flowers and fruits at an accelerated rate after my negligent containment of them.

I bought fifty tiny “winter colour” seedlings ultra-cheap from a Guardian offer in the Autumn. I potted them up with zealot gardener dedication.

But I was too late getting them into the flowerbeds and between one hard frost and another, followed by inches of snow on frozen ground, too cold and hard to gouge the trowel into, they were abandoned in their tight little containers.

In the Spring I noticed they seemed to still be alive, had even managing a bud or two in their tiny cells. I planted them out randomly in the garden and in the window boxes, what the hey.

Whoo-o! Within two days they were three times their size, bursting with new leaf and bigger buds, new buds and some had even flowered! They embraced their liberation with a force they must have been building and building after surviving the dormant freeze of wintertime. They have since produced flourishes of bright, joyful flowers for several months.

Similarly, the box of strawberry seedlings a friend gave me a couple of months ago which became root-bound. I fretted mildly about where to plant them and putting straw around the plants and what about losing them to our snails and slugs who rampage with full territorial rights through our garden and was there any point really in planting them out at all?

What a thing to admit to! And yet it reminds me of the fears we sometimes have about starting any creative project – our mind throws up all kinds of possible obstacles and fears which often prevent us from doing anything at all.

What is the point of spending hours of my life on this novel if it is never published? What is the point of buying a paint set if I never have time to paint? And so on, you get the idea.

I planted the strawberries out last week and already there are bunches of hard creamy strawberries beginning to blush with pink – the bright red one of a few days ago has already been eaten by a mouse or bird.

There are so many basic and complex examples of solid, external circumstances that confine and constrain us in our lives in just the same way ice forms in the stems of pansies. A lack of funds, the death of someone, a locked door, a phone not answered, a Visa expired, love rejected, a bus that breaks down.

So often our response is to try to fight the constraint, push it away. Maybe even deny it altogether. And yet look what nature tells us about the power external constraint can give us. If we freeze, pause a little and then allow ourselves to build our energy it will be there as a huge reserve you can let burst when external circumstances change, as change they will.

I am going to be more pansy and strawberry plant like from now on when I’m forced by external circumstance and situation to be dormant, pull my feelers in, remain alert and unmoving – be patient within a prolonged pause.

I am not talking here about in-between fallow periods. I am talking about those very real, very tangible forces outside of ourselves that stop us in our tracks and which we cannot change by force or any other method.

If my pansies or strawberries had fought against their confinement they would have lost a large reserve of stored energy. Instead, by pressing a natural ‘pause’ button they have given themselves the energy reserve to, at the slightest lessening of their confinement, burst forth with a huge force of raw, flowering and fruitful power.

And so it is with us. Instead of fretting and fighting about a confinement we might have – traveling to work, a difficult relationship, a tight deadline, an enemy setting us up for a fall, a pay freeze, a drain on cash flow – so many situations come up in life that press our ‘pause’ button.

I’ve noticed that many people advocate pushing through these forced constraints and I agree it is a good idea to test the strength of it initially. But then we must pause and wait, always knowing the release may not come but quietly containing our energy so we are ready for the dam bursting, the bonds removed, the money flowing and we can enjoy the hugely magnified power we had in only in potential before the constraint.

Constraints are good. They dam our creative power. And that means our creative power can explode like a new universe from a black hole.

If you, like me, are hoping that the photographer, Kalpana Chatterjee, who captured the image above immediately pulled out a pair of wire cutters and cut that barbed wire right off, you are only showing the positive spirit of humanity that has us always turning towards life and growth. Let us imagine the divine release and how the tree sap flowed after that snipping.

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24/06/2010

Why do things die, mama?

“Why do things die, mama?”

My child and I had walked and talked for about ten minutes after finding a young fox dead on the roadside before she asked this question.

We were on a nature walk, an “adventure” and I gasped when I saw it lying there, all soft chestnut fire glory against hard grey tarmac and sharp curb.

So extraordinarily beautiful. So young, only just an adult, smooth, soft, mange-free fur and white teeth, brand new. Still warm, but dead.

Cars whizzed past, fast. I picked the fox up, its head flopped and I cradled it, blood dripping a little from its mouth.

I carried it and laid it reverently in some bough-heavy bushes, curled it around nose-to-tail as though it was sleeping, closed its eyes.

My daughter wanted to touch it too. I was proud of her. We stroked it. Her emphasis was on its wild eyes. Mine was on its youth and splendor.

We talked about it being an instant, painless death, that looking at the road, the driver couldn’t have stopped in time. We noticed the globy blood splatters. My girl asked would the fox’s parents be looking for it?

I began to cry, just a little. I was thinking of the utter, desolate waste. The youth and vitality, the care the fox’s parents would have taken to protect, feed and teach this little one through cold Spring and wet days and nights of scarce pickings. And now too quick across the road and gone.

My quiet tears as we walked were not just for this young, healthy, fit fox. They were for my own death kisses: my dogs, my cats, my mother, my self, my best friends, a boy I found dead in his car, who had fed a hose from his exhaust pipe in a lonely place . Suicides, bizarre accidents, fatal medical mistakes.

I don’t mind at all that my child sees my tiny tears or feels my sadness. I think of other children who are not given opportunities to see and feel raw, wild life and learn about death gently at first through the natural world. Who do not go on nature walks. Death on a nature walk, what could be more natural?

We have ten minutes of discussing the fox, sudden death and the consequences for everyone involved, my child asking me all kinds of questions.

And then she asks me, as she has asked me several times before, “why do things die, mama?” And I say, without hesitation, “because without death there is no life”.

I use my quaint, simplistic theory of opposites to explain things a lot. Without darkness light doesn’t exist. And yet, when we happen upon death suddenly and unexpectedly as grown-ups we are thrown out of our complacency. Children accept.

I feel odd writing about our young fox – and this is a documented syndrome you know, that when you happen upon a dead body you feel a primal sense of needing to protect it, an askew sense of it being your responsibility – I think of him still curled up and getting wet in the rain, I wonder should I have carried him all the way home and buried him here though that didn’t feel at all right at the time. I feel a little dishonorable documenting our experience in a blog post.

All of this is perhaps less about the natural, wild fox still in his natural element in the bushes and more about the wondering over death his has stirred up in me.

Yet, I want to say that I am glad we came upon the fox when we did, that it was us and not some other, stray dogs even.

I am grateful that the fox in his death gave several gifts to my child: a chance to touch wild, to stare at stillness, to learn about death in all of its complexity, to honor the found dead, respect and revere them – and more, that crossing roads is a dangerous thing, impulse must sometimes be tempered, consequences of decisions can be catastrophic …

I see her beautiful mind absorbing all of this. And she does not cry. As with so many other things, she understands it all far better than I.

Image “An Angel in the Woods” borrowed from artist Karen Davis. Check out her Etsy shop,  Moonlight and Hares + follow her on Twitter @moonhare Thank you Karen for making our world more beautiful.

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10/06/2010

Nature: is it in your nature?

Do you think about yourself in relation to nature around you? What is your relationship with nature?

Are you intertwined like ancient roots or curved branches? Do you blend in? Are you detached?

I have just realized that the more I am in nature, the more I details I notice and the more supported I feel.

Yes. I was going to say ‘healed’ and there is that too. But it’s supported that I mean. And feeling supported, as my extraordinary homoeopath once told me, is the number one most important factor in anyone’s healing.

Last night I noticed that the bees were still busy caring for the pinky-purple flowers of the giant rhododendron trees in our back garden as dusk was darkening thickly around them and the wind was gusty and hard. Yet even with their aerodynamically-absurd tiny wings and big, fluffy bodies the bees kept going.

Suddenly I’m thinking the quickening dark is an analogy for depression and that bees are a wild inspiration to us for mindful activity in the face of impending mental angst.

I am seeing these kind of tiny, potent metaphors and analogies everywhere I look in nature now.

It’s quite overwhelming.

It’s like I knew all this but now I am being shown, blinkers off, eyes wide open.

I’m frightened yet thrilled. Like when a child asks for some “danger” within the safety of a familiar, loved story.

Something has just occurred to me. Many years ago I was diagnosed with ‘acute reactive clinical depression’. I might talk about this another time but the point I want to make now is that after being referred to said homoeopath above by a clinical psychologist (obviously a very evolved one, huh?) and being given a remedy in high potency I still remember coming out of depression.

I was hanging clothes on the washing line, sun shining and there it was – my first HAPPY moment in months.

A single happy moment. Unbidden. Arriving during a simple, productive task.

Cherished.

What I‘ve just remembered now is how noticing nature galvanized that moment for me and gave it more momentum.

I heard a wild, flapping, buzzing noise from the bush next to me and upon examination I saw – argh – horror moment coming – a praying mantis biting the head off a huge, noisy cicada which was still flapping its wings trying to get away.

It appears praying mantis and cicadas don’t suffer depression at all. Although maybe they feel rather odd and unbalanced after landing on a pesticide-dripping plant.

I remember thinking, ‘Hey, I’m not dead!’.

I feel we have lost much of the support of nature, the bracing perspective it gives us, and the multifarious, analogous aids we have in seasons, plants, birds, animals – aids we can easily find in every living thing if we simply look.

I think we humans have simply taken it all for granted, simply not really noticed it and furthermore we’ve been hugely attracted, like bees to blue plastic flowers, to gadgets and gizmos and fripperies that provide saccharine nectar for us which doesn’t sustain and nurture us but gives us hedonistic, too-quick highs and cravings for more.

Don’t get me wrong, I am as easily seduced by shiny as you or anyone else. But now I am feeling a different seduction that’s much more rewarding. A primal craving. And a deeper level of satisfaction.

I’m Noticing Nature.

Feeling supported by it.

Which in turn makes me Notice Nature more.

And feel ever more supported.

Why should this be such a surprise to me when it’s in my nature? Is it in your nature too?

Image “Forget Not” above borrowed from Mae Chevrette Art – Original Paintings and Mixed Media. You can buy this and other art such as “In the Sea” and “The Love You Make” oh, and “To Be Brave” from Mae’s Etsy store. Thank you for making the world more beautiful Mae.

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09/06/2010

Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow

Slow, slow, quick-quick, slow. Oh, the rhythm of the tango.

If we dance through life then the tango is my dance. What’s yours? Waltz? Foxtrot? Tango? Maybe a bit of line dancing – why not?

Even while I’m a person who’s happy to go from sound asleep for 10 hours to massive, intense, multi-tasking action to ‘make up’ for my love of sleep, I’m feeling a pull towards a slow waltz. Yes, I think I’m gonna take the slow road, even while as the picture above shows, that’s a topsy-turvy, new perspective for me.

I don’t think I’m alone in noticing a deep, quiet yearning for a slower pace.

So I’m now evaluating how I dance through life on an every day level. One step at a time.

Time. Well let’s forget about that. Let’s consider for a moment perception. Perception of how we move in the world. Do you rush? Do you walk slowly?

A lot of the pace we find ourselves setting is not just about the tasks we set ourselves each day but also, quite simply, where we live.

City dwellers always move and talk faster as a general rule than those living in rural areas. Living in the city and attempting to slow down requires a conscious swimming against the tide of, (sometimes pretty frenetic) energy that surges around you every day.

While in the countryside, surrounded by powerful manifestations of natural cycles through plants and animals, the seasons and an overall sense of a ‘slower’ pace, the full force of Mother Nature is setting your internal pedometer and mental acuity without you even realizing it. You are HUMAN after all.

So now I am noticing these differences. I’ve become aware. I’m aiming for slow-slow-slow-slow-slow —s-l-o-w and will be happy with a little quick-quick in there now and again, of course.

Even in nature a slow-grazing rabbit must be ready to run fast, a lazing, energy-saving lion to dash for a gazelle, a feather light seed to move quickly in the wind, a snail to tuck itself into its shell.

Snails. We love snails here. Having had a dry spell there have not been many about. But during lovely, saturating rain yesterday we had a snail encounter that illustrates several of the points I think I am making today.

Our bus broke down. Us passengers were off-loaded. Some were grumpy. I just don’t see the point of grumpiness about things like this. We were standing on the pavement about to walk when I realized a woman was calling a taxi.

Ever the friendly opportunist, (I’ve always lived with dogs and cats) I asked if we could split the cab with her? She was very sweet and happy to tell me in her Irish accent that it was a free ride on her employer’s account. Lovely!

As we waited in the drizzly rain my daughter excitedly drew my attention to what she had been studying – three gigantic snails in full slither all over the top of a garden wall in amongst lush green shrub.

Wow! They were beautiful. We stared and stared. They were moving pretty quick in the rain, in their natural element, out in the morning, happy and getting to it after being in their shells so long. My daughter wanted to give them something to eat.

I had a few big crumbs of bread in my bag (yes, I know that is a bit weird, but I AM a fairy story character, OK?) so my girl put the crumbs in front of one of the giant snails and he/she slithered at it and ate it while we watched, enchanted.

I am telling you this, possibly tedious, (slow?) story to illustrate how magical experiences have the space to happen in those slow moments when we are forced to wait, to look around and wonder. (Remember “the waiting place” in Dr Suess’s “Oh, The Places You’ll Go“?)

While some people might say it was a nuisance to have your bus (or car) break down with a different perspective it can be a gift out-of-time, a valid excuse to not just embrace but fully indulge the slow. Even witnessing, as we did, one of the natural leaders of the slow movement – and pretty mascot of the Slow Food US / Slow Food UK – the snail.

I am loving the Slow Movement, Slow Food (follow it slowly, of course, on Twitter) and slow everything else even while I am still catching myself doing a bit of quick-quick quite often. But then snails slip into their shells very quick-quick.

So maybe snails understand the rhythm of the tango just as much as me but prefer a slow waltz generally. I guess they keep their schedules pretty open: find food, eat it, evade death, appreciate your amazing hermaphrodite-ness, enjoy slithering and making out with other snails.

There’s a lot of good stuff to learn here. I am going to stop setting myself a ridiculous number of things to do each day. I am liking this idea of taking the slow road and making a slow, mindful, energy-saving and aware mindset my default position.

You gonna make like a snail or are you enamored of the cheetah? Unlike most animals in the wild, we have a free choice (if we allow ourselves to live wild that is).

Footnote: I must add that I’ve actively practised s-l-o-w while writing this post, by putting back the delivery time on your email subscription instead of rushing to make it by 11am AND forcing myself to not check the 26 emails which arrived tantalizingly in my inbox while I was writing it. This was NOT EASY for me! But change never is, is it? Also, thanks to Bindu Wiles for her wonderful 21.5.800 project which has supported me in staying focused and centered today. What a gal is Bindu – check her out.

PS Lovely Jackie Stewart of Flowerspirit has a wonderful post about the healing effects provided by a particular flower essence on this very issue. This flower helps us, as Jackie says, ‘slow down and be present’, can you guess it’s name? I love flower essences.

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