When it comes to doing things we love, how many times do we have to hear ourselves say “I’ll do this when…” or “I wish I had time for this,” before we actually do what brings us joy? Or do we even get to it at all?
In the busy lives we lead, being in the here and now is often a challenge. Occasionally I remember to stop and take a full breath, allowing my surroundings to reveal themselves simply as they are. This momentary, non-judgmental state brings about a peaceful spaciousness that permeates through thoughts and activities that follow.
Other times, within the flurry, I manage to immerse myself in moments that captivate my spirit and my heart: being totally present and alive.
As an architectural lighting designer, it often occurs to me that light is akin to the way we illuminate our life. Light shapes the space, controls the atmosphere and focuses the attention.
Light is an integral part of how we see and, most notably, how we perceive our world. Darkness is much more than the absence of light: it’s an entire universe of concealed form. When light emerges, it brings form out of that darkness, having meaning in relationship to its backdrop.
Symbolically, just as lighting needs to be thoughtfully organized to be effective and valuable, shedding light unto our own lives bestows order and presents insights. It is vital to know our own highlights and shadow sides: Illumination, as with enlightenment, allows us to create an artful, passionate life.
Capturing the essence of passion for life is a compelling manifesto by Dave Culiner:
is about celebrating the moment
and that we’re not guaranteed or owed another day
and how cool it is that what we hide
can actually be the fuel towards our glory
and that it’s not so bad being proven wrong
is about welcoming the blind turn
and the possibility
that there’s no such thing as coincidence
and that empathy is incredibly sexy
and that it’s never too late
to pick up a guitar or a paintbrush
or to make an amend or to make a new friend
could be about rekindling a past flame
or igniting a new one
or shapeshifting from a dreamer into a doer
or savouring the caress of a love long gone
means whatever it is you want it to mean
is a celebration of you and your path
cuz it could go at any second
— Dave Culiner
What is the special reward for putting everything ahead of our own dreams? Which incentives are worthwhile? Since responsibilities, family, financial survival and work are essential to our wellbeing, the question might be reframed: “What is it that makes me feel great about being alive?” or “What share of time can be spent on what matters to me most?”
Perhaps finding large chunks of time is not the answer. Finding ways to alter our perceptions and reframe our actions in the smallest of ways is a beginning to lighting a path to wellness. It takes time and practice but it doesn’t mean it has to be arduous or joyless!
Being aware of the times we feel a deep uncluttered sense of joy, ease, or boundlessness brings us essential clues. Then, including small, manageable habits in our day to day builds a foundation for the dwelling we dream of, literally and figuratively! Making time to slow down long enough to “stop to smell the roses” is key.
Perhaps the most precious time to stop and smell blooming buds is spring, when Mother Nature shakes off winters’ gloominess and calls us to run barefoot through the re-discovered grass. Smelling spring magnolias is a curiosity, uplifting and grounding simultaneously. And they are almost ready to burst out of their soft furry husks, offering us marvellous moments!
First published in Tone Magazine, April 2011