A road trip with Grandpa Ernie
I love a good road trip. One of my biggest memories from my childhood is sitting in the back of my Grandpa Ernie’s old royal blue Vauxhall Chevette, watching the scenery go by. I have him to thank for my love of the scenic route.
He would very rarely go on a motorway, instead choosing to take to the A and B roads at a much slower pace (in fact I am sure that Chevette never went over 40!). Over hills we would go, twisting through valleys. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a motorway, cars speeding along, whilst we meandered through the lanes. We would point and talk about places of interest on the way. Everything seen, everything considered. Trips to the seaside took an age and always an anti climax when we got there, the competition we had as to who saw the sea first was always the best bit.
As I got a bit older, it became a standing joke how long it took us to get to places with Ernie at the wheel. I would get bored and wonder why he just didn’t get on the fast roads, why waste all this time when there was a much quicker route.
Grandpa Ernie died when I was young, I never really got to know him, not properly. Thirty odd years later, I look back fondly, wondering if Ernie was alive now, we could persuade him to run a mindfulness workshop, or better still take us all on a mindful drive through the lanes in his old Chevette. He didn’t know any different, mindfulness was his default setting.
I certainly find myself in the metaphorical sense wanting to take the scenic route more and more, to come off the motorway of life every now and again and meander through the lanes, taking time to take it all in.
A busy life
Which ever way we butter it up our lives are busy, the world is fast. It isn’t going to slow down anytime soon and for good reason. Progress has to be made, things have to be done, that’s just how it is. But do we need to race through life? what are we racing for? what are we trying to achieve?
We like to wear our busyness like a badge of honour. “How are you today?” “ah yes all good, keeping busy”. You hear it so many times. If we are not busy, then there must be something wrong.
If you sit in the coffee shop and just drink a coffee or stare out of the window, you get looked at like you’re a psychopath “oh my god, he must be a serial killer, he isn’t fiddling with a phone or making a drinking a coffee instagram selfie, #busy”. Its sound absurd and perhaps a little over exaggerated but you get my drift, busyness is the norm.
If we race through life what happens at the end? Do we go, oh shit, there’s the finish line, the final destination, why the hell did I run so fast, I will try to turn back, nope can’t do that, where are those meandering lanes when you need them?
A mindful route.
The practice of mindfulness can allow us to see that there is perhaps another route, a more scenic option, where you can see the scenery and wind the window down to feel and smell the clear air. A route that allows you to pause at life’s junctions and to be curious about which way to go without being overwhelmed. A route that allows you to know when its time to pull over and rest. A route that allows you to uncover your inherent zest for life, that buzz of joy in your tummy. A route that allows you to fully experience whatever is happening right here, right now, good or bad, without judgement or knee-jerk reaction. A route that allows us to mindfully join the motorway of life when we need to, but to come off onto the meandering lanes when it serves no purpose to be going so fast. A route that above all, doesn’t focus on the destination but on the journey itself.
As we sit in meditation and when we bring mindfulness to our everyday lives, we could see it as a trip onto those meandering lanes, a curious and mindful exploration of life as it really is.
Will mindfulness turn me into a blob?
Sometimes people are put off from trying mindfulness because they believe it will slow them down, numb their senses, turn them into blobs of nothing, without any feelings.
I can only speak from my experience, but the opposite is true. It is as if somebody has turned up the brightness button, life that looked dull, has started to be seen in Technicolor. Mindfulness has the ability to awaken the senses. Senses that we forget to use when life is going so fast and we are lost in our heads. Sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing.
It sounds weird but I swear I’ve only just learnt how to smell again (I really ought to go have a shower).
Instead of becoming a blob, taking time out, in silence and stillness might be the thing that makes us feel more alive than ever, it really is worth a go.
A mindful Exploration of Life
We can’t always take the meandering lanes, sometimes we have to join the motorway, but we don’t have to stay on it forever, why race to the end when there is a whole network of meandering lanes waiting for us to explore.
So there we have it, if anybody asks me what I think mindfulness is, I will say its like taking a drive onto the meandering lanes of life. Anybody up for a trip?
May you have a great week ahead, if you feel like life is going a bit too fast, stop and breathe, remember this little story, I hope it makes you smile.
In The Mind Shed.