Wednesday, 21 October 2015

What does it mean to 'be present'? Is it 'to listen'?

It's a Wednesday. It's my day off. It's sort of how I feel like most people's Sundays are...that day when nobody seems to have the energy to do anything...

But when it comes to my day off, I always feel like I should be doing something. Being productive.

I write lists. I send myself to town. I search for something I/someone needs. I drink coffee while staring out of a different window. I work, I analyse, I wash, I chalk...

This afternoon though, I read an article by Guardian writer Sali Hughes, about how you need to make yourself take time off of the world sometimes, to really appreciate life as it is... "Over the course of my bed-in, my brain gradually slowed to a pace at which my feelings could overwhelm my thoughts [...] my emotions felt vivid, visceral and heightened within the safety of my own home", she writes. It's okay to be at home, she says, with nothing planned for hours, or even days. In fact, it's good...It's "necessary". Sometimes.

I decided in that moment (in the bath, surrounded by candles and a book that I always take in with me but never read), that this would be my 'time off'. No lying there, planning what I can do when the water cools and it's time for me to move again... Just lying and listening, in the quiet. And not feeling bad for it.

While I was lying there, I heard a bird making a strange noise outside the window, I caught the reflection of one of the candle flames in the shiny metal of the plug holder, and I looked at my feet. My toenails need painting. My feet look wide and pale. I have a bruise on my thigh. How did that get there?

When you're so quiet that your mind slows down too, you start to hear everything else. The car driving down your street, a door shutting in the house next door, and the front door opening as your housemate gets home from work.

Sit for even longer and you hear your housemate filling up the kettle, too! I'm ever so glad I was quiet enough to catch that one :)


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