The importance of stopping

Ruth Warden

25 / 6 / 2014 9.54am

By Ruth Warden, assistant director, employment services

Life is a bit hectic at the moment, for a variety of reasons. I know that I’m trying to fit too much in and that sometimes it doesn’t always work. But a couple of times this week I’ve had to stop myself and reflect on the benefits of just stopping and thinking about the effect on my wellbeing of doing too much and being in a constant rush.

Earlier this week I had to dash home, feed the kids and then get my eldest son to a scout campsite where he was doing of all things – axe throwing! The campsite was a distance away (50 miles) so not a quick journey. It was a beautiful, sunny evening, not too hot, clear sky – but I didn’t see any of this I was too focussed on rushing and “fitting it all in”. I dropped him off and then dashed home to walk the dog, then jumped in the car and back again to pick him up. 

As ever with scouts a laid back approach was order of the day and the time of the pick-up passed, and passed. As I sat in the car I got angrier and angrier, emailing, texting “Where are you??  I’m waiting, I’ve got things to do”.  After 40 minutes I was so wound up.  My son finally appeared, rather grubby and announced that he was “good at axe throwing” – I’m not quite sure if I should be pleased about this or not!!  It was only then as I looked over my shoulder to move the car out of the layby that I saw the view! How had I missed it! The campsite overlooked fields and hills, it was green, the sun was getting low in the sky, you could see for miles, it was peaceful and just beautiful. And I had sat there for 40 minutes and not looked once, I was too focussed on rushing and getting angry!  What a missed opportunity. I could have sat back, enjoyed the peace, watched the view and had a good 40 minutes rather than the angry, wound up 40 minutes I had!!

I was too focussed on what I had to do, or more to the point what I hadn’t done, and the time I was “wasting” rather than just enjoying being in the moment. And the effect this had on my mental health and wellbeing?  Well it took the journey home to calm down, and now I was mentally kicking myself for missing a chance, as well as being annoyed that I got annoyed!  Can so much negative stuff go on in one head at a time?!

I think because I was so angry and the beautiful view was such a contrast to the emotion I was feeling I can still see the view in my minds eye. And maybe that is a good thing because it will remind me that I must slow down and stop and that if I don’t I’ll miss some beautiful things in life and unlike the view, I might not have the chance to experience them or the moment again.

Maybe Wordsworth had a point when he said:

“Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind”

Ode: Intimations if immortality from recollections of early childhood

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