When I visit Maui, it is impossible to ignore the free gifts we all get offered every day, because they are there in front of me – and maybe that is because I am not being busy with my life, and therefore take the time to notice them. I’m talking about the weather that enables our plants to grow. I’m talking about the fruit and vegetables we have to eat as a result of that weather – OK, I know that in the UK we have to pay for them unless we grow our own!
Then there are trees and flowers with their individuality, beauty and changing nature, there are hills and mountains, beach and sea – landscapes of all types to delight the eyes. And what about the birds that sing, the butterflies that dance around the flowers, the bees gathering nectar – so many beautiful things that we can appreciate at no cost.
Just spending a little while noticing what the world offers us to enjoy for free is a great way of feeding our soul, and there is always something available. I watched a lovely little video where people in a not very pleasant neighbourhood were given an empty picture frame and asked to find something beautiful to frame with it. By looking around and up instead of just walking through, they all found something to frame. (This group does lots of great things like this. If you want to take a look, here’s the link to their site: https://www.youtube.com/user/soulpancake ).
Noticing these free gifts gives us a little space in our hectic lives, a chance to regain some perspective. When you watch the birds, the plants, the stars, they exemplify the natural way of being in the world. They don’t rush, they don’t struggle against how things are, they don’t worry about what might happen next! They remind us that we are natural living beings too, even if we are not conscious of it.
There is also something calming about the rhythm of nature: rain on the window, wind in the trees, birds flying – it all has a soothing effect on us and quiets down our bodies and minds.
So give yourself five minutes every day just to notice and appreciate the gifts of the world around us, and allow yourself a little break from the pressures of everyday life.
‘What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.’
By William Henry Davies