Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Through the eyes of a child

I'm not sure anything goes slower than a toddler learning to walk. First of all the steps are generally unsteady, the direction uncertain and the focus unclear. The toddler I have in mind is easily distracted. The dullest of twigs, stones and leaves all get special attention with a pause, crouch and close inspection. You're lucky if you move a dozen steps (toddler steps mind) before some thought you can't comprehend results in a sudden change of direction, often towards some hazard or other. In other words progress is painfully, desperately, dreadfully slow. Possibly slower.

I didn't cope well. It started cute, minutes later it became boring and my mind wandered, I became impatient, irritable, keen to get a move on. I feel the same way in traffic jams or when my computer won't boot up quickly enough. The world moves fast and you have to hurry to keep up. Life is busy and head, heart and soul get used to operating at a high gear. The next thing you have to do continually intrudes into the present. We're distracted from the moment by the thought of the whatever is happening next rushing headlong towards us.

The busy we get, the faster the pace of life the more likely it is that we will grow in impatience. It's a necessary by-product of our over-connected, over-wired, over-busy lives.

The problem in the case of my walk with my toddler is that I had nothing particular to do afterwards, nowhere particular to be and nothing more important to be doing. I was impatient for no very good reason. Once that insight began to take root, I began to make a conscious effort to slow down and appreciate watching my son learn to walk, something I will only get to do once. To appreciate a day I will never live again, to see colours and leaves, and appreciate the fresh air on my skin. To savour the time with my wife and son. To thank God for the rich blessings that are my life, to get to the end of the day and say, "I am blessed".

It's good for the soul to slow down, good too for the heart and body. I recommend the pace of a toddler.


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