Even in the thick of it, in St James’s Park right by the road, I found a moment of peace near an ancient tree. Saturday night and it wasn’t full of drunks. I sat a while and listened to the wind breathing through the trees. The sound of the road seemed trivial compared to the quiet roar of a nature that was there before the road and will be after.
I found myself thinking from the perspective of this tree – my mate.
There it is, plugged into the ground. It’s losing leaves now, but they’ll grow back in a few short months and all it needs to do is wait it out. Meanwhile we are running around swarming like ants, full of our little daily noises. I was walking past it head full of noise until it pulled me in with its big fat trunk.
I’ve let myself get swept up in these concerns. Covid. Money. Politics. Work. Accommodation. I lost half a day yesterday to mixed anger and upset about a job I didn’t really want because it felt a bit like the only job in town. But these little fleeting things, they come and go and yet we can accidentally get ourselves into a perspective on them that’s all consuming.
In the context of history this Covid is just a blip. This isn’t the one where they have to open the plague pits again and start ringing the bell and shouting “Bring out your dead!”. It’ll mean we can’t have absolutely all the nice things immediately. But we need to get a handle on that desire anyway because it’s getting us into a pickle.
The thoughtless way we lived has been shaken off and we are being made to live mindfully. The context of daily life is different. It’s useful to shift context – it broadens your horizons a bit. It’s why travel is good for you. It’s why widely traveled people are usually open minded, if occasionally insufferable. Everybody has had to shift, and now everybody has at least two perspectives on how daily life can be. That will help people notice that many things have an element of choice somewhere. We can have an understanding of the choice, and make our choices actively.
We can choose what we consume, both literally and in terms of imaginative and spiritual fodder. Maybe we’ll start to try to choose more mindfully in time to slow down the rate at which we are making this planet hostile to us. Not that it matters to the tree. It’ll be there, barring a hotel chain getting permission. It’ll be there until a glacier grinds it down, observed by tattered uncomprehending ape things huddled in an old statue worshipping a Jedward poster.
We can wind out our lives on meaningless noise. Don’t allow it. Life is huge and rich and possible. It’s a joy if you let it be.
You could argue that standing in a window with a silly head on just to make people smile is a stupid job. I would agree. I’ve been doing something wonderfully stupid. There’s nothing wrong with stupid so long as it isn’t ruining the place.
We made a lot of people smile today. We shared joy with strangers. We played and were played to. If you’re too wrapped up in the negative buzz of your moment to grin like an idiot at something stupid you might as well just be an ant.
I’m exercising my choice at the moment by denying myself all the things I consumed mindlessly. I’m not saying forever. I’m just going to be as conscious as I can going forward.
Meat. Caffeine. Alcohol. Large quantities of refined sugar. Those are my main ones. I can take things to extremes sometimes though. But maybe take advantage of this shift in context to examine one of the things you have taken for granted. “I can’t wake/drive without coffee?” Yes I can. “I can’t shut my head up without booze?” Yes I can. “It’s not a meal without meat?” Yum. “Yayyy monster munch!” Um…
You might shift a habit. You might not. Either way it’ll be interesting to observe.