By Helen French, April 2, 2021
This past weekend I went out for a walk with my four-year-old son, Isaac and our 5-month-old puppy, Hans. My intent was to get some energy out of the puppy and enjoy the fresh air. After a morning of Lego building, laundry folding, and refereeing sibling squabbles I needed a change of pace. With two young boys and a puppy in our family we have an active and full house. My husband and I often feel like we can never stop moving. It seems like the minute I find stillness or quiet someone needs me to do something.
This sense of constantly being in motion has been heightened over the past year as COVID and the global pandemic added layers of complexity to our everyday lives. Making art and feeling motivated to create often times eluded me as I got caught up in dealing with everyone at home all of the time. My creative impulses were overshadowed by anxiety, uncertainty, and this constant feeling of being busy 24/7. Some days passed in a whirl of motion, and yet I didn’t feel like I had “accomplished” anything.
Around mid-summer I recognized that what I was missing in my life and creative practice was stillness, quiet, and solitude. I needed the practice of doing nothing and the mental space that comes with being still. I realized that unless I was intentional about carving out time to be still and quiet, I was going to continue cycling through an emotional pattern of anxiety, overwhelm, guilt, and fear. Getting outside and taking walks has been a gateway activity to slowing down. By reconnecting with the rhythms of nature I take my first steps to finding stillness.
As Isaac, Hans and I continued our walk the tempo of our steps began to create a sense of calm and unity between the three of us. We chit chatted as we strolled, stopping to look at a flower beginning to bud or observe the ants marching along the sidewalk. When we rounded the corner to return to our house Isaac stopped, and stood completely still, staring off into space. After a minute or so I asked him what he was doing. His reply, “Mom, sometimes when I stand really still I can feel the world changing.”
May we all recognize the value of stillness.