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From placenta to play centre

Listen for the birds…

Over the years, it has come to my attention that I’m a bit of a ‘charger’.

I don’t mean this in any automotive sense, but rather it refers to my purposeful gait. On occasions where other people may amble, stroll or mosey, I charge. Even if it’s just a short walk to the shops, within two strides of taking off I have my elbows swinging violently back and forth like a frog in a blender.

I also must confess to being a charger in other aspects of my life. At the dinner table in particular, I’m a man on a mission. Why eat your meal in 20 mouthfuls, when you can gulp it down in 3 and spend the rest of the time on the couch reading the paper?

Charging is not a wholly endearing trait. Work colleagues who see me coming jump to the perimeter of the corridors as if I was carrying a suitcase full of yellowcake. The world can go by in a blur and mistakes are easily made. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked away from an in-depth conversation only to find that my trouser fly was gaping open.

Why the rush?

Well, actually, it came as a shock to me recently that there isn’t any great rush.

My usual morning routine is to park my car and charge across a school oval to the building in which I work. But a few months ago, I tried something different. I drove to the car-park, hopped out and walked…slowly.

A 5 minute charge, became a 10 minute dawdle. I opened my ears, and to my genuine surprise, I heard the screeching and squawking of the birds perched high in the Eucalypts. Had they been there all the time?

I poked my head out of the office at lunch time, and they were still singing away. I listened in the evening on my way back to the car - they were still there. They were there all the time.

What I had stumbled upon is something called mindfulness. By slowing down and paying attention to the precise moment that I was experiencing, I grasped a completely different perspective of the world. In that instant, the world was not about my own ‘to-do’ list for the day, but about the variety of things going on around me. In this country, more often than not, those other things are steeped in beauty.

Our modern lives are undoubtedly busy. Between work, social life, family time, and work again, the months of our precious lives can slip by without us breaking stride.

But often, we are so concerned with past happenings or future possibilities that we forget about the wonders that exist in the present.

Mindfulness is a simple technique that we can all practice every day.

By chewing your food for twice as long, you will start to really taste your food. By putting on a favourite piece of music, and doing nothing else but listening to the notes, you will discover the genius of musicians. By going for a walk without your earphones in, you will hear the truly unique soundtrack of the Australian fauna.

Truth be told, the time to start re-engaging with the joys of the present is now. Not tomorrow, not after you cross off one more thing on your ‘to-do’ list, but now.

I still charge around the corridors, and I still scatter my colleagues like a bowling ball through ten pins. But I do take 10 minutes to walk from my car to work, rather than 5 minutes.

Next time you catch yourselves thinking, ‘is it June already?’, go outside and listen for the birds.

They’re there all the time.

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