A Little Girl and a Caterpillar – Life’s Lessons & Mindful Insights
A typical day, I was in a rush. I had just 20 minutes to get home, grab what I needed and catch the next tram. I was consumed with being “efficient”. It was stressing me out, I was not enjoying myself.
No, it was not unusual. But then...
...I reached the top of the hill near my house. Coming up the sidewalk was a young girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, moseying her way home. Oh boy, was she enjoying herself.
Seeing her shifted my energy and my thinking. Allow me to explain.
"Where is she? I told her not to dawdle."
Here children go home for lunch, it was that time of the day so I figured that’s where she was headed. She was alone (not unusual here) and she was surely late. She didn’t show any sign of realizing or caring about being tardy in fact she was enjoying herself so much it made me smile.
I laughed to myself.
Her mother was probably at home wondering, “Where is she? I told her not to dawdle. Why does that girl stop for everything?!”
I also thought, why can’t I be that carefree, then realized the irony. Stop worrying about the irony and choose to be that free.
The Universe Was Trying to Tell Me Something
I slowed my pace to observe her, sensing I might learn something useful. The closer we got the more I could see the pure happiness and joy on her face. She wasn’t just walking, she checked out the grass, the plants, the ground, the sky, and then stopped for a caterpillar crossing her path. She was so curious about the world around her, appreciating it with all her senses and totally focused on enjoying the journey.
She started singing, “La da di da, La DA DI DA...” Her sweet little voice faded as I crossed the street, but the image of her stayed in my mind. I was still smiling, but this time because I realized the universe was trying to teach me a lesson. I just needed to be open to it.
"SLOW DOWN, Janene!" Is what it was saying.
Taking Time Gives You the Space to Enjoy
We pack our lives so full of appointments, activities, things and meetings that I think we forget less can actually be more. With so much going on we have little chance of really enjoying it all. Slowing down is often about being selective in what we commit to, so that we get "more" out of the things we do.
I was recently quadruple booked for an evening. A few days before it dawned on me there was simply no way THAT was going to happen. So, I let two things go.
On the evening I came to the conclusion that, that wasn't even enough. At the first event I was so focused on saying what "I needed to say" and getting out of there on time to make the next event, that I didn't make a great impression. I felt conflicted, even bad about rushing off. I should have been focused on meeting new people and building new connections at that event. I was not enjoying myself at all.
In fact, what I’ve learned is the more I give my undivided attention to something (a task or even a journey somewhere), the more I enjoy it and the more energy it brings me. Enjoying something also provides a greater sense of time and peace. Along the same lines, the more I stop chasing down trams and just wait for the next one the, better I feel. The less time I spend thinking about what’s coming next, the more I can enjoy right now. Etc... you get the picture.
Life Lessons from that Little Girl
What can we take away from observing that little girl? First, we always have a choice. A choice about how we use our time. Doesn’t matter if it’s from the kitchen to the living room or from your home to town. To a large degree the quality of that journey is our choice. Oh and choice is such a powerful tool.
Rather than running from A to B all the time we can chose to enjoy the journey. Take the opportunity appreciate something often taken for granted, like walking; revel in the fact that you can even walk. All those body parts moving together in the right way at the right time - it's amazing. We can enjoy the beauty around us as we walk.
I realized that too often I (we) forget to appreciate these things for the fantastic gifts they are.
Here are four takeaways from that little girl.
- Revel in the fact that “I can walk”, simple because you can.
- Be curious and fully engage your senses.
- Feel like singing – SING. Feel like stopping for a caterpillar – STOP.
- You have a choice, to slow it down at any time and in any place during the day. SO, TAKE IT!
Next Time, Try Something New
The next time you’re rushing from point A to point B or booking yourself into oblivion, try something different. Slow it down and savor it more. Get more enjoyment out of how you spend your time.
- Enjoy the journey.
- Be present.
- Be grateful.
Share with Us
I'm curious about how you've slowed things down. When was the last time you stopped for a caterpillar?
Share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in the comments section below.
Until next time, enjoy the journey!