War Memorial Gary Trouton

Notes from a newcomer

October 2006

Marion thinks we should take things more easily even if it easier said than done.

The one thing we don't do enough of is nothing. Simply sitting and watching the world go by is a bit of a lost art. And one that is rather frowned on in these hurried times.

It's fine to sit inert in front of a TV or computer screen, but that doesn't feed the soul, does it? As the poet Thomas Hood rightly asked, "What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare?"

When I was young, I had a positive talent for idleness but now if I sit for more than 15 minutes in the middle of the day, I don't relax. I fidget and mentally run through the list of chores that need doing. Soon, I'm on my feet again, virtuously hoovering, phoning, ironing, shopping - notching up another tick on the 'to do' list.

I reckon I could learn something from the day-dreamer I used to be. The person who never felt guilty about spending an afternoon reading a book to the very end, happily oblivious to the world.

Perhaps I should take lessons from a friend who is an artist - he spends hours gazing at a half-completed canvas, puffing thoughtfully on his pipe. His mother used to complain, 'Bob has two speeds; go slow and stop'. His wife, naturally, thinks his time would be better spent doing a few odd jobs around the house, but he calmly insists that meditation is a vital part of the creative process.

Rushing about doing things is all very well but it prevents us properly seeing and hearing what is around us. It's only when I cease from digging and weeding the garden and just sit quietly in it that I truly take in its beauty; the colours and shapes of the plants, the drone of bees, the flash of a drangonfly.

As children, we were ticked off for gobbling our food too quickly and instructed to sit still while we digested it. The same applies to life - we miss an awful lot when we just gulp it down hastily without chewing it over thoughtfully before inwardly digesting.

The question is, how do you apply the brakes when you are hurtling along at 60 miles an hour? Slowing down isn't easy, but we all have different ways of achieving it. It might simply be a long soak in a hot, scented bath, or 15 minutes of yoga every day. For those who have faith, prayer is a valuable time of quiet reflection.

Last month, the Stoke Ferry Music Festival provided another solution. Sitting in the lovely setting of All Saints church while the music of Mozart and Schumann filled the air was the perfect way to 'go slow and stop'. And The Bluebell supplied a nice glass of wine to sip, slowly and meditatively.

Marion Clarke

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