I remember a time, many years ago, when I was young and life seemed so filled with wonder. Everything was so intriguing and interesting compared to today; or so it seemed anyway. The smell after rain. The sounds of the beach. The thrill of a birthday. Staring up at the sky, whilst sitting by an open fire!
When I look back on the years between my youth and now, I can’t help feel that a lot of that childhood wonder went missing. Gone. Replaced with the demands and struggle of everyday life, but why?
Had the world become more and more uncertain? Was my naivety masking the true nature of things? Perhaps… But maybe there are other factors too.
Fast forward to today. I find my life has become quite ordered and routine again (like my childhood) but I am also noticing the details again. Things that had been taken for granted have been slowly coming back into view as I regain my powers of observation. Like when I was a child.
As a child I was inquisitive and filled with questions and appreciation for things, as often I was seeing them for the first time. What were they? What did they do? What was their purpose? All these things filled me with questions. A child’s eyes sees things without prejudice or knowledge, but instead with imagination. Always questioning. Always discovering.
As we grow into adulthood this is soon replaced with responsibility and the struggles of day to day life, I found I had to give up my ‘vision and observation’ for the demands of everyday life. Job. Home. Relationships. The endless search for success and happiness.
We become ‘busy’ and ‘distracted’ with the day to day tasks of doing what we need to do to survive or what we think we have to do. All the while we lose the details of what is going on around us.
Perhaps we are most awake when we are at the beginning and the end of our lives?
Today, since becoming (prematurely) unwell and limited in what I can do physically and where I can go, I have noticed that my powers of observation are slowly coming back to me. I see more now, with my limited vision and eyesight, than at the height of my career and in the prime of my life. I think more than I used to. I have discovered more since becoming ill than I did for the decades when I was well.
Even with the untrammeled vision of a thirty year old woman, I took for granted all that was going on around me and all the small things that were happening to me everyday. Because I had no time to see them and no time to appreciate them. Even as I was growing more and more ill, I tried desperately to ignore that too.
In my youth I was seeing things for the first time and they filled me with curiosity and wonder. Now, because I don’t know how my life is going to go and when I may lose my vision again or more of my physical abilities, I look at things as though I may be seeing them for the last time, and therefore I see them with a much greater appreciation.
Although I am NOT saying that I am going to die tomorrow, I look at things as though I don’t know when I shall see them again and therefore it gives me a deeper appreciation for the things that take place around me. My childhood eyes have been returned, only now with renewed appreciation and deeper wisdom.
I treasure things and try and take them in more deeply. Deeper into my body so that I can store them inside me somehow.
Time is once again allowing me to notice things like nature, weather, peoples faces, the way things smell and the sounds around me. My thoughts are much more my own than when I was under the command of demanding employers and nagging ambitions. The price I must pay for this new ‘freedom‘ is that I must share this time with endless pain and all the burdens of ill health.
With this ability to ‘see’ and ‘observe’ comes the need to think and learn. At least that is the way I have chosen to enter this new phase of my life. I try to think more and learn more from the things I see and experience. I hope to find more answers in the little things that happen and the way I feel and respond to them.
Perhaps the ultimate irony is that when life appears to be taking so much away from me, it also may be giving some things back. Giving back the little things that I haven’t been able to enjoy for a very long time. Like the gifts of observation and appreciation.