Sunday, 19 August 2012

Happiness in Simplicity

I was sitting at the table, eating my breakfast cereal this morning, browsing the internet, as is my usual habit of the morning and I became distracted by my friend's cat playing on the floor of the kitchen with a plastic drinks straw.  This got me to thinking about the simplicity of life and how this cat had no need or demand for anything other than a small, hollow, lime green, piece of plastic tubing, in which to find happiness and contentment.

I believe the same is true, perhaps even more so, for dogs.  What does a dog love more in life than a simple game of fetch with a stick or ball, to play endlessly, incessantly, even though it pants with its tongue hanging limply to one side and knowing that it can barely stand on its legs any longer?  Or to lay next to you, revelling in the pure and total joy of simply being at the side of its owner?  Simple pleasures.

Children also have the same ability to find pleasure in the simple things of life.  They are able to play for hours at an end, lost in the depth of their own imaginings and creations.  I can remember being lost in this way playing with Lego, kicking a ball against a wall, playing with my model trains, my action figures.  I recall the stories I would create, giving life to inanimate objects, talking with them, as I became lost in a universe where anything and everything became possible.  Are you also able to recall such times?

As children too, we are filled with a sense of awe, of wonderment at the world in which we live.  Almost every day, there is a new discovery to be made, another amazing fact to learn, a bewildering sight to behold.  There are the marvels of nature and the natural world - animals, birds, fish, plants, flowers, trees, mountains, oceans, canyons, lakes, rivers.  And there are the marvels of human invention - cars, aeroplanes, trains, space rockets, skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels, ships.  The world seems an exciting place.  A place similar to the world we create in our imagination, where anything might be possible, and indeed, it seems that it is. 

Then, at some point, we begin to lose this sense of excitement and bewilderment of the world.  Our eyes, our ears and our brains become accustomed to everything.  Things that we once held in our minds as the most incredible things we had ever witnessed, now become the ordinary.  A world in which we once feared nothing, begins to give us causes to be mindful.  A place where once we believed anything was possible, now gives us reasons to doubt.  The things that we once enjoyed for endless hours, now seem silly and childish.  We lose our sense of awe.  We stop seeing the magic in the world.  And we stop believing in miracles.  I am sure that this happens to everyone.  It happened to me. 

But I can also recall times, when I would rediscover my love for the natural.  The beach and the ocean in particular, have always held a place in my heart.  Summertime down at the beach, losing myself by swimming out a distance from the shore and then laying on my back, floating with arms and legs outstretched, eyes shut to block out the bright sunshine, simply bobbing around on the gentle rolling of the waves.  These were the moments that I seemed to live for.  These were the times when I would feel something stirring, something crying out in my heart and I would say out loud to no one other than myself, "I love this!"  And I did and I still do.  I would always head to the beach whenever I could, whether to bathe in the water, to walk with my parents dogs, to lose myself in thought and just stare out to the horizon.  Perhaps, these were the times when I heard the voice of my heart but I was not yet ready to heed its calling. 

I do not remember exactly when, but at some point in time, I began to open myself back up to the possibilities of life, of nature and to miracles.  Now that I think about it, maybe I had never actually forgotten to do this.  I can remember how awestruck I used to be, gazing out of the window of the plane I was traveling on, at the cloud formations, the sunrises and the sunsets.  How amazed I was at the size of the European Alps, a seemingly endless vista of mountains and valleys and how I felt an urge to be down there, walking and climbing amongst their peaks.  I can remember being absolutely thrilled one Sunday morning, flying from New York back to London, when at around 6:30am, somewhere over the heathers of Scotland, I was able to watch Concorde zooming passed us in the opposite direction, New York bound.  In deed, the first time I laid my eyes upon the skyline of Manhattan, I was dumbstruck, almost unable to take my eyes of this mesmerising and incredible feat of architecture and engineering.  But it was a few years later, that I truly began to see the more simple things around me, those things that occurred on a daily basis, and to be aware of the miracles of life that were happening all around me, all of the time. 

Life is a miracle.  Creation and evolution are miracles.  Watching a butterfly amongst the summer flowers, hearing the chirrup of crickets, listening to the dawn chorus of birds, hearing the wind through the trees fluttering the leaves, seeing clouds drift lazy by overhead.  All of these things are simple moments in life that allow us to recall the miracle of nature and of life.  There are so many others.  I once again began to see the world as a child sees the world - as a place of wonderment and possibilities, where anything could happen.  I try as often as possible to be a child, to seek out the joy and fun of simple things. I marvel at the flight of birds, at the humming of a bee.  In moments of solitude, I have never felt lonely because I am surrounded by and immersed in life, in miracles.  A few years ago, I was living in Wellington, New Zealand and one Sunday morning, as I sat on the beach wall down on the waterfront of Oriental Bay, drinking a take out coffee, enjoying the warmth of a winter sun, looking out across the bay to the snow capped mountains in the distance, I happened to look up and watch a seagull flying over my head.  In this moment, I had a profound and deep sense of joy, peace and calm.  I felt as though I had plunged into the heart of the universe, I felt immersed in life, I felt connected to every living thing on this planet and in this universe.  Life shows us the way and we have only to open our hearts and eyes to its miracles. 

And so it is that now, I find happiness in simplicity.  Happiness in immersing myself in life and in stripping away the complications that as adults, we all too easy allow ourselves to become embroiled in.  I strongly believe that simplicity is the key to happiness.  Because life is actually very simple.  Life just is.

Provider of miracles
Of possibilities
Of dreams
And of love.

No comments:

Post a Comment