Joy and meaning.

Joy and meaning…


I was recently sharing in one of Brian Draper’s helpful email series’.  This one mentioned Dr. Alastair McAlpine’s profound observations gained from working with seriously ill children: What terminally ill children taught this doctor about how to live”. “…the so-called small things were the ones that turned out to have enormous significance at the end.”

Obviously, it’s not the same, but sharing our house with two children, and working in a school, the simplicity of a refreshing childlike perspective is often pricelessly gifted to us. Yes, it might be difficult, it is difficult, to see past our cares, our worries, and the pressures and expectations our culture advertises. Also, the childlike growing teen is learning to fit in with our culture and testing our constructs – the growing-child’s behaviours are often challenging. What we are talking about here is an essential childlike spirit… Perhaps.

But it’s not just children that can realise a more honest way. What simple truths might we discover, as Brian says “if we as grown-ups, can subtract the ephemera of adulthood, to enter life more fully…” ?  Alastair McAlpine writes “The kids were not hung up on “stuff” … the happiest, most meaningful moments were simple ones that … embraced the importance of human connection”.

As adults, we engineer the question ‘What brings you joy and meaning?’, something children perhaps don’t ask but just do, be and are. They naturally(?) do, be, are, and embrace their joy and meaning in just being alive. Perhaps again, it’s that simple process of pause, stop, yield, relax, breathe

Riding to work recently, I slowed my bike to let two children and their father, also cycling their bikes, pass on the track in front of me. Unwarranted, they both individually proclaimed with joy and meaning “Thank you!”, “Thank you!”… The simple honest natural(?) action really made my day, I couldn’t help but smile – in fact further down the track I smiled and audibly laughed – happy daze!

The lack of interaction, as well as the intolerant and often ignore-ant interaction, we so often experience as adults, is bathed away by the joy and meaning that a simpler attitude (or lack of ‘attitude’) can bring.

Last month I shared Edward De Bono’s thoughts “A Child … enjoys the use of his mind just as he enjoys the use of his body as he slides down a helter-skelter or bounces on a trampoline”

Often (and especially on my commute) the happiest, most meaningful moments are: the simple ones that … embrace the importance of human connection.

I am reminded of a moment a few years back: the Morning Puja.
“The day was still grey and the bin lorry ahead was trailing musty decay but the bin men smiled and life or something inexplicable filled the air.

Pause, stop, yield, relax, breathe… give thanks … with someone.



Morning Puja?

This morning was a very normal morning. Overcast, mild, a normal ride in down very normal back streets with very normal people…

I have recently been reminded to be aware of people*.

This morning I breakfasted with my young family; a fraught affair with spillages, tantrums, laughter, worries, sharing and hopes.
(I have been remined
every supper with them – even just a bowl of cornflakes – is precious beyond all telling. Check Frederick Buechner’s reflection.)
During breakfast I found myself smiling inexplicably at the dog, he was just causing me to smile involuntarily – those of you that know me will know that I don’t smile inexplicably, not inside at least.

Halfway through my 7 mile trip into work, riding down a normal Leicester backstreet, I passed by an elderly lady in Asian (Hindu) dress, sari & the like, she was outside her front door, holding a small brass or copper coloured pot** up to sky, from the pot she was pouring water steadily onto the pavement…

Tweet‪#‎leicester‬ normal back street, Asian lady pouring liquid from copper pot** holding up to the sky… Inexplicable laughter, smiles and tears.

Harrison Road Leicester

All I can say is as I rode on, physically i felt utter joy, inner smile, warmth, brightness welling up inside me. I smiled, i audibly laughed and tears welled up as I continued.

The day was still grey and the bin lorry ahead was trailing musty decay but the bin men smiled and life or something inexplicable filled the air.

There had been no preliminary hysteria, psychological practice, no hypnotic stimuli, no music, no interaction, it came through a grey normal, regular, routine, moment.

Could I capture this thing that was passing? No. Google it***; but you won’t find it.

I toyed with the idea of returning and taking a picture of the lady… but it all passed… moments later I was in a different place, the world settled back to another street, cars, people, metal, stone, colours, smells, routine – normality … but stained with the taint of something bigger.

Have a good day.

*People who:
– who serve us in shops
– who make the things we use and enjoy
– who cook and serve when we go out for meals
– who clean the toilets at campsites, shops, restaurants, motorway services etc
– who grow, transport, prepare and sell the food we eat
– who build the roads and buildings we use.
– who teach our kids
– who look after us when we’re ill…

PS: I am reminded of Brian Draper’s unconscious simple steps; Stop, Relax, Breathe, Smile.  Reach out to grasp {glimpse} eternal things… 

** Kamarwiki/Lota
** Puja

*** Woman Pouring Water During Morning Puja