Whenever I go somewhere or meet someone, or do something, and then come back to my own solitude, I bring rememberings with me. We all do, of curse, but not all of us revisit them in order to learn a new thing. I know this, because I have asked people who continue on the same track regardless of encounters of the third, or any other kind. I have never worked that way, because I believe that everything changes me. A glimpse of a smile from a distance, unexpected and easily missed had I been burying in my bag for my mobile, or lippy, or notepad; something a person says, albeit like a grace note that leads quickly back to the dominant chord; a fleeting look, hurriedly corrected so the eyes give nothing away; a chance meeting, a chance to see, to hear, to notice.
The world is moving too fast, everyone says so. Not the actual world, but we who stomp across it’s surface, plunder it’s depths, take too many liberties. However, it is the way it is, and bemoaning what is lost is a pointless excercise and one that can have me rolling my eyes and taking my leave. It has aye been this way, and we were sure to speed up. We thrive on a challenge, ache to be the first to discover new ways to do old things, so I embrace the change, however much it might trip me up. After all, did I know how to blog, tweet and facebook a year ago? I did not, and it is only thanks to the team at Two Roads and Hodder that I have learned anything at all, or discovered the delights and noted the pitfalls involved in this trip to outer space. Had I been curmudgeonly, had I succeeded in returning my laptop to a pile of component parts, as I badly wanted to do, I would still be on the outside, swearing I knew all about it and wanted none of it. I would have sounded knowledgable whilst I sank in the quicksands of ignorance.
Learning how to notice every little thing, is just a habit. However, like all habits, it requires attention and mindfulness at the outset, until it becomes something that our subconscious mind, our higher self, takes on board. I am no expert on any of the many wonderful ways we can control the lunacy of our monkey minds beyond knowing that I have 12 monkeys at least in my head and must, therefore be 12 times more determined to shut them up when their screeching and tree-leaping drowns out all gentle sound, such as that of a baby bird calling from across the loch, the sound of one small voice in a busy street, the sound of pain, of hope, of fear, of longing, the sound of one hand.
Walking with my old Ma down a dusty track in Corfu, not lost but heading that way, we moved slowly and noticed everything. She has just had both cataracts done so she does a whole lot more noticing that I have noticed her doing before. The scuttle of a tiny lizard, the tipping sideways of it’s head as it watched us pass by; a new red bloom, just opening, on a wild spread of hibiscus; the twinkle in the eye of the sand-seller with his jet black face, and his armsful of colourful sunglasses; the old dog, only it’s tail visible as it lies cooling off beneath a little bridge; the dragonfly and the black butterfly, the old woman clutching her prayerbook, dust on her long skirts and not one tooth in her head. At each encounter, we stopped to talk about it, and, when I was quietly alone, later on, I revisited them all.
If, by just stopping albeit for a second or two, I grow my own world, not because I passed these things, these people, these moments by, but because I noticed them mindfully, then this must be a healthy option – more healthy than any breakfast cereal, nutritious diet, super-juice or form of excercise can ever be, although they all have their place in our general well-being. People live and then they die, and sometimes too quickly and as a complete shock. We know this, and yet we still live fast, rushing past moments to make contact, to make amends, to make friends, to make things well again. We can be millionaires and poor as church mice at the same time, and we keep doing it. The monkeys say it’s ok, don’t listen to that stuff. They say things matter, that we should speculate, accumulate, call in the locksmith and keep it all safe, learn clever tactics for anger management and stress control, plan for the future and so on, and they are right, to a degree. But we are out of balance if we think they are gods.
What we need to make time for, not merely hope that time will stretch just for us, are those things, people, moments, that grow our worlds beyond the daily admin. We must become the change we want to see, not waste time wishing on a star as if we lived in some fairytale. We have it all right where we stand. All we need to do is shut the monkeys up and listen for the sound of one hand.