Morning on another beautiful day here in London town. Dontcha just love the freshness of spring? It just gives you a boost like nothing else. This winter past wasn’t particularly harsh compared to previous years, but even so you feel like a butterfly emerging from a grey cocoon when the sun shines its warmth and the daffodils start to pop their perky heads out.
Quoting Joe Pilates last week made me revisit his Return To Life book, and I was amazed anew at the redolence to the present day, even though it was written in 1945. He starts “Civilisation impairs physical fitness”, and goes on to describe how “This very rapidly progressing world with its ever-increasing faster tempo of living demands that we be physically fit and alert in order that we may succeed in the unceasing race with keen competition which rewards the “go-getter” but by-passes the “no- getter.” It could be written about the 21st century. Which just shows that the things that deplete our health and wellbeing have pretty much remained constant throughout the generations, and we don’t seem very good as modern humans at counteracting them!
One of the things that I am going to take from this book today is his talk of pleasurable living: to ease “mental strain and relieve physical fatigue”, in Pilates’ words, we need to play more. “How many of us simply spend the night routinely reading the evening newspaper? How many of us are entirely too exhausted to read, even occasionally, an interesting book, visit our friends, or see one of the latest motion pictures?”, he says. Slumping in front of mindless TV for a few hours at the end of the day isn’t quite what he’s after, I don’t think. But the mindful enjoyment of something, which actually lengthens time and means life is being enhanced and lived. A long conversation with a good friend… a good meal, prepared and enjoyed in a relaxed fashion.
Play time, something that we used to have scheduled into our time as school children, but now…we need to make our own time for play. Or adjust our mindset to work it into our lives. Looking at Maurice it makes me realise that there is an inherent simplicity to his emotions right now, he is either happy and joyous, wholeheartedly content and engrossed, or very unhappy (and boy does he let me know when he’s unhappy!). He feels all of these very profoundly, in their rawest sense with nothing to complicate them and no shades of grey. And he smiles a lot, pure squeals of delight accompany his daily discoveries and adventures. He’s recently discovered the existence of cats and dogs, and other living things in his environment. When he encounters one, he becomes transfixed and starts to squeal, shout and kick his legs, with a huge grin on his face. The other day he spent a full 15 minutes shouting at a crow who was marching as if on sentry duty around our picnic spot in a sunny park. Sadly the crow didn’t give him anything back but a blank stare and continue on its way, and from cats he is usually offered a silently disapproving wide berth, but this doesn’t dissuade Mo from his enjoyment.
Everything is new and potentially joyful for Mo, and this is the state that Joe Pilates suggests we need to rediscover. Instead of allowing the days to fly by in the daily slog of routine, without noticing anything new, start to open your eyes, look up, look down, look to the side in your blind spots for things you may not have seen. Finding a bit of frivolity in your life to alleviate your stresses, which will help to ensure that the nutrition you put in your body and the exercise you do lifts you up to full healthy wellbeing.
got to go, my little man is awake and now trying to steal my computer!