It was a sunny Sunday at the tail end of summer. I was at home on my computer, when my husband suggested we walk our dog, Yuki, together. We’d already been to town earlier, but something made me say yes. And I’m glad I did.
As we walked in the sun we talked about our desires for the future, our goals in life, and things we wouldn’t have spoken about at home where responsibilities often get in the way and then, exhausted, we go off to do our own thing.
Anyway, we walked to the field that is usually overgrown with grass and wheat. I call it The Blackberry Field. It holds a special place in my heart because it’s where dad used to take me blackberry picking as a child and is also where we used to walk the family dog I grew up with.
This time, the grass and wheat had been cut down, leaving a wide, open expanse of rolling hill on which the blackberries were still growing down one side. The view from the top was breathtaking; all greens, yellows and browns topped with the crystal-blue sky.
You see, we live in a town that is undergoing heavy development. Everywhere you go there are new buildings springing up and huge cranes looming over the streets. Hammering, clanging, and sweating. But here, in The Blackberry Field, there was none of that.
The sky was clear, save for a few interestingly shaped clouds that seemed to stretch to infinity. From the top of the hill, we could see rows of trees, a village in the distance, and other fields that were miles away. I watched as the shadow of a cloud passed over one of those fields like a curtain. I’d seen nothing like it before. I’d never taken the time.
It was such a relaxing, and awe-inspiring sight that we sat down at the top of the hill and took in the feeling of complete freedom. It was as if time didn’t exist.
And here’s the important part. We hadn’t taken our phones or even a watch.
Everything was just as it was in the moment.
Just us and nature.
We let Yuki off the lead and she ran around the field like a wind-up toy while the grass blew gently around us in the breeze. It felt like we had entered a dimension cut off from the hustle and bustle of the world. All we could hear were the birds tweeting from the surrounding bushes, and Yuki as she panted her way back up the hill towards us.
We were present. We were at peace. And we were connecting with each other.
Seeing the fields stretching before us and houses the size of thumbnails made me feel like I was part of something much bigger. A tiny person in this massive world of infinite possibility.
My mood sky-rocketed. I felt happy and at peace, even when I had to go home and prepare dinner (I hate cooking). When you consider the tonne of scientific research which shows how beneficial and therapeutic nature is to humans, it’s no surprise that I returned home feeling renewed. Being in nature also has positive effects on depression and stress, as well as being a great way to practise mindfulness.
Too many of us fly through life not stopping to feel the ground beneath our feet or experience the surrounding calmness. We’re used to infinite busyness, the endless buzzing of notifications, and hurried conversations. Rinse and repeat.
Before we know it, we’ve gained a few more grey hairs and have accomplished nothing. Relationships are strained and people are more stressed than ever before .
There’s pressure to always be available online, to perform at work, to check our notifications, to look a certain way, to be a perfect parent, to be more successful, to make more money, to own the latest stuff, to keep up with the hottest trends and all the latest news. Feel exhausted yet?
There’s only so much of us to go around, and we can only focus on the most important things in our lives.
But if we learn to stop. If we take the time out to enjoy the present, even if it’s only on a weekly basis, it will boost mood, alter perceptions, and give way to clarity for the direction we are heading in life.
You will find yourself thinking about things you probably didn’t think about in the chaos of everyday modern life. See things in a way you had, perhaps, never considered before.
I’m sometimes guilty myself of being so focused on cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and being eager to escape at the end of the day, that I barely look at my husband when he gets in the house from work.
I cook dinner straight away, wash the pots, get my son ready for bed, then we’re exhausted and anticipating more of the same the next day. On days where both of us are working, we can both end up too eager to escape to distractions instead of each other.
It’s too easy to pass each other by like cars on a motorway.
In the field where time stood still, I remembered why we put rings on each other’s fingers.
But I also remember back when we were renting a house together for the first time. We were a very close couple for years, but somehow got into a routine of getting home from work and completely ignoring each other. I thought living together would strengthen what we already had. I was wrong.
I got immersed in writing or playing a game while he was busy playing an online game with friends. Then I would get up to cook dinner, and somewhere along the line we stopped eating at the table together, eager to get back to whatever distraction we were at before. We started arguing about silly little things and before we knew it; we were talking about calling it a day.
Our once perfect relationship was almost destroyed, all because we didn’t take the time to connect with each other. Away from technology and away from ‘busyness’. Away from our own self-absorption.
Know what fixed it?
Spending time at the dinner table again. Putting down the distractions to talk face to face.
The more we talked, the more we realised that conversation was moving away from hints about splitting up, and more about what we loved about each other, and where we wanted to be in life.
We realised what had happened and decided from that moment on to always eat at the table together, and to go on occasional dates, whether that be a walk into town, an evening at the pub, or a night spent watching our favourite anime together – no phones or tablets within arms reach.
I’d be so confident as to say our relationship became even stronger than before.
The other day, I was chilling on my computer and my son said, “Mummy, come off that for a minute,” and took my hand. I followed him and he took me to the window and showed me the most beautiful sunset, then he smiled and gave me a kiss. That moment will stick in my memory for a long time, but it’s one I would have missed out on had I stayed glued to my computer.
It’s not just our relationships with others that are in danger of being extinguished if we don’t take the time to nurture them. We are in danger of losing ourselves. And it can be hard to find again. In fact, it can be so hard to get back, that many people give up and wonder why they’re as unfulfilled or as miserable as they were ten or twenty years prior.
In trying to impress others or keep up with the constant rush of life, we forget who we are. We forget our values, what we like, what we dislike, who we love, who we admire, what our dreams are, why we want what or who we do.
We become part of the fast-flowing river, doomed to enter the sea of mediocrity before repeating the same tired old cycle again and again.
So, instead of worrying that the battery is running out on your phone, worry about your time on Earth running out faster than the sand in an egg timer. Instead of slaving over notifications on your screen, take notice of the real life things right in front of you. Instead of ticking off one task after another, take the time to rediscover yourself and rekindle, build, or make new relationships.
Make time for today.