You'll notice that when I asked for words, my Mum said I am 'observant'. Not so much in the household things, as I am notorious for not noticing the towel that lies on the floor in the bathroom for days, or the stack of books and papers on the coffee table, my mind is just elsewhere, but in the little things in nature. What I do see are the textures in a dead plant, or the gentle progression of blue to grey in a puddle, the muddled colours of some tree bark, or the sounds of tiny birds in the middle of the night. I notice the beauty of the fog on a deciduous forest in winter, and the comfort in the clouds that hug us close.
It wasn't always this way. Absolutely, this is something I've always done, and always loved, but never to this extent. When you experience utter and complete silence for the first time, as I did on that island one year ago today, you begin to notice more. I discovered the incredible gift of silence, and the intrusion of sound and lights in our everyday world. As I sit here at the computer, the hum of the computer and the crackling of the keyboard gets in the way of my thoughts, but still I think. When you walk through a silent, untouched forest, along a trail made by wild sheep, on a cool, damp, foggy day, the only sound being created under your feet, and stop, and look up; and there you see a postcard, layer upon layer of perfect trees, disappearing quietly behind a blanket of ever-thickening fog, and the gentle shades of green and blue, the moss on the ground, and the distortion of the dark green colour of the trees by the fog, you start to watch more carefully.
In a world distorted by machinery noise and flashing red and yellow lights, car horns, and people screaming at undisciplined children, it's easy to forget to watch. But once you see it, whatever 'it' is for you, you never forget. You never forget to notice the little things. I amaze myself sometimes at the bizarre things I notice. Sometimes I even notice them in the muck of human destruction, a barren wasteland of clear cut land, mangled beyond belief, and a single tree of hope, reminding us of the hope we have from our Saviour, or a caramel-coloured puddle--almost good enough to eat!
Today I dragged my Mum down to the beach. Oh the joys of being behind the wheel!!! The sun was about to set, and I ran down to the last tiny crescent of sunshine on the beach. I looked out across the water, blue from the blue sky above, the first time in over a week! Down the beach I saw the gentle curves of the shore, and the line created by the dark green seaweed, the many-coloured pebbles, and the driftwood and pale green grasses. I looked out across the water again, as the sunlight gently brushed the last bit of it's daily vigour on the trees on other islands, the layers of them giving a pallet of greens. Watching the clouds change from white to blue-grey, to pink and purple, and back to grey, in their wide scope of tiny and thin, and large and puffy, and above them, an almost-full moon. These things I see, on a normal, wet day in my little town. I didn't have my camera. Instead, I took a piece of the beauty with me. That pebble from that moment will be treasured for a long time. It's an ordinary rock, and it's not very big or particularly special for any other reason...but it is beautiful because I chose it.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies