On Friday, I found myself sitting in an exam room, in silence, with the knowledge that I had to remain still and do nothing for at least another hour. My first reaction was one of frustration, time seems so precious and there never seems enough of it to fit everything in. I could feel a knot of tension building in my chest as I thought how far behind I was with so many of the tasks I have set myself to finish. Just think how much I could achieve in a whole golden hour if left alone without distractions. It seemed particularly ironic that this hour of enforced inactivity should come at the end of a week where sickness had interfered with my plans and my goals had had to be put to one side in favour of more pressing needs. I allowed myself to wallow in the unfairness of the situation and resentment built in my mind.
Looking out of the ugly metal framed window before me and beyond the exam posters blocking the view, I was suddenly struck by the beauty of a huge oak tree growing on the other side of the school. Its glowing yellow leaves were caught in warm sunshine against a heavy dark grey sky and it appeared almost to be lit from within. I was entranced by its splendour and wished with all my heart that I could capture that moment but knew a photo at that instant was as much of an impossiblility as all the other things on my list (I took this one without the dark sky or sunshine, later!) so instead I used what I had to hand and decided to see if I could draw it myself.
The next hour passed so quickly, as distracted from my anxieties I concentrated all my attention into really observing what I saw before me. As my eye followed the lines and shapes I was able to see more and more beauty in what was there, the way the light hit the sill, the uniformity of the brick, the way the windows revealed the view beyond. I allowed myself the time to look and truly see for the first time in many, many years. It took me back to the classes I took at art school where we 'wasted' whole afternoons with nothing more pressing to do but capture what we saw on paper using the pencil in our hand. What had started as an hour of anger and panic ended as an important lesson in how important it is to stop still in the busyness of our lives to enjoy the mundane and the ordinary.
"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence."
When I look back I see this theme emerging all over the place in my posts, I just hope that little by little I am learning to take that deep breath and to let go of all those expectations and to give myself the space to just be. In this run up to Christmas will you join me and turn your 'to do' list into a 'might do' list too?