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Singing our songs

Lifestyle Section - Editors Letter

  It’s been a while since I posted my ed’s letter, due to a very robust debate regarding the merits (or not) of hunting, on our dedicated letter’s page. It’s great to see that people are prepared to put pen to paper, so to speak, and declare their beliefs, sentiments and affiliations – and it’s always a good indicator of the brisk dialogue that newspapers can stimulate.

It’s been a while since I posted my ed’s letter, due to a very robust debate regarding the merits (or not) of hunting, on our dedicated letter’s page. It’s great to see that people are prepared to put pen to paper, so to speak, and declare their beliefs, sentiments and affiliations – and it’s always a good indicator of the brisk dialogue that newspapers can stimulate.

Over the weekend I was determined to set aside a few hours for quiet contemplation after a few frenzied weeks, and the best place to do this was my garden – in the company of my three dogs and two cats, and an astonishing abundance of birds.

The human/animal interface is one that fascinates me, and sometimes one simply has to sit very still, and just watch what is taking place around one. The little details of life, just carrying on with business as part of an ordinary day, from the smallest to largest in our personal viewfinders.

It’s at these times I find myself doing a mental inventory, of all the things I need to do, or intend to follow up on, or concern me and preoccupy the hours that should be filled by sleep. In the stillness of just sitting, though, after a while I am aware of a peace descending on my busy thoughts, my anxieties and concerns.

Slowly, languidly, I become more aware, of the bees buzzing from bush to bush, replenishing their energy needs and also rendering the wonderful, acutely important service of pollination. Smaller yet, the little flying insects, illuminated against the slanted early morning rays of sunshine, are a haze of movement.

Suddenly I see tiny birds, swooping down in a graceful arc from the shrubbery, and scooping up a beakful of protein mid-flight, re-alighting on a tree branch. My cat makes that peculiar little snrk-snrk sound, his eyes following the bird’s trajectory as it whizzes inches from his whiskers, perhaps taunting him a little with aerial prowess, who knows... He resumes washing his face.

Looking up, I suddenly notice that the huge tree, which has been devoid of a single leaf for the past few months, has started putting out tender little shoots, from the uppermost branches 25 metres above my head. While gazing in that direction, I see two squirrels cavorting about, performing manouvres that are contrary to the laws of physics and gravity, it appears.

It’s as if their little feet are velcroed to the branches, as they sprint upside down, corkskrewing their way along the flimsier sections, then leaping across to another twig, oblivious of the abyss beneath them.

The scent of jasmine is heady, and I’ve got sprigs of it in a milkjug in the kitchen, to continue the olfactory delights when I step back inside later.

All is blooming (“bloomin marvellous” as they say), and I absent-mindedly rub my fingers through the rose geranium as I walk about my green haven, seeing all the bulbs emerged from their wintery hibernation, which now yield this colour spectrum to lift my spirts, caress my senses, and remind me of what, too, is important on a microcosmic scale on our beloved planet.

So often the battle is in actually  just doing what we want, or need, to do --  we instead get caught up in the intricacies of decision-making, to the point of immobility. Mental note: liberate action from intention.

Long ago, the poet Rabindranath Tag-ore wrote these words: “I have spent my days in stringing and unstringing my instrument, and the song I came to sing remains unsung.”

It strikes a chord in me, because I know from personal experience how easy it is to linger in that mesmerising space of ambivalence, of self-doubt and second-guessing, of pondering and analysing and scrutinising situations for their complexities and their conundrums, until the moment to act passes into the night, possibly never to return.

We are creatures of habit, and that is a habit I have been forced to confront, one that keeps me in the cerebral state, instead of allowing in the instinctual state, and the language of the heart, to direct me.

A few Sundays ago, I attended a meditation at Mayfair in Somerst West with Gen Pagpa, the Buddhist monk who comes through now and then from Rondebosch. Love, patience, humour, acceptance, peace, tolerance, gratitude – he encapsulates these things, as he quietly talks to the assembled group, with periods of guided meditation in between. Bliss.

I left feeling revitalised, reminded of the blessing of the relationship between mind and body, where we can electively harness our personal power to still the chattering flow of thought, or calm incessant worry, just by entering that space of conscious breathing, and allowing calm and clarity to assert themselves where chaos and indicisiveness may reign.

There is joy everywhere, and Tagore also had this to say on the subject: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” Indeed, words to live by.


Written by Carolyn Frost You are reading Singing our songs articles

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