Belfast Telegraph

If only we listened to ourselves, we'd hear the answer

Can't get the words of that song by Dawn out of m'head these past few days. "I'm comin' home, I've done my time ..." I don't want yellow ribbons tied round trees, but I am looking forward to all the things I haven't seen for six weeks.

 People, places, rain that comes sideways, even the manky stuff like litter on the motorway meridians (Have you noticed it's always fast food and sugary drink rubbish? Rarely is it packaging from lentil burgers or hi-fibre sugar-free snacks that gets bucked out the windies. Hmm ...).

Going away makes ex-pats of us all I guess.

I've taken to dreaming of Belfast. Must be an attempt to balance out all the otherness of being abroad. Last night I walked the whole way along that walking track by the side of the Lagan in east Belfast.

When I woke up I realised it doesn't exist. But it was lovely anyway.

So next time I'm sitting in rainy Belfast wishing for something I think I'm missing, I'll try to remember that even in Paradise I felt the same. That the missing something is maybe just inevitable and not something to take too seriously. It's just the psyche's way of mentally balancing things out.

Nature probably is always tending towards balance. If you let yourself get quiet enough, I realise you can usually hear what your body is telling you that you need. The problem is that usually, we don't pay attention. We live up in the head so much, we've poo-poo'd the cleverness of our own selves.

Maybe I've just had a surfeit of gift shops and greetings cards, but I'm beginning to realise the "truth" of all those little sayings about how you have everything you need inside you etc. How come we don't generally give over some time in our days to listening to ourselves? We get in the car and the radio goes on. We come into the house and the radio or TV or iPod goes on. Or we lift the phone to text or look at Facebook or surf the internet. Or we talk to other people.

Right back to school days. Primary one. Wouldn't it be a great idea to begin that early in a child's life, giving him or her a simple quiet time? Not with a story being read, not with a DVD or a piece of music. Simply a quiet time. And whatever comes up for them comes up.

All the outer expressions of disease are crying out to us individually and collectively ... "Listen to me! Pay attention to me!"

We have created the means of mass cheap production in our world. And we have been caught up on a hamster wheel of demanding stuff we don't need and buying stuff that has been made to respond to the demand for something to fill the hole of longing for something.

I think what we're longing for is connection with ourselves. And that's never going to be satisfied with more stuff or louder music or further away holidays to hotter climates.

I know it's not going to sell a lot of brochures or timeshares, but the best holiday is giving yourself time to relax. To be who you are, to experience life living itself through you.

I used to say we're all just ants running around in a Tupperware box. Now, I think the wonderfully surprising and delightful thing is realising that we are actually the box itself. And it's not a box. It's space.

Belfast you actually look so exotic from way over here. Can't wait to kiss you again!

Belfast Telegraph

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