Maintenance. Let’s face it, it’s not a sexy concept, is it? It smacks of drudgery and duty, to me at least, something that you really ‘should’ do, but which often falls by the wayside in place of something more exciting and shiny.
I hadn’t intended to write anything to coincide with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week – in my view, we should be able and willing to talk about mental health any time we want and not need a special week for it.
But I changed my mind. This morning I went for my regular early dip in the sea, which most of the time I do on my own. But today was different, as I swam with a friend who went in for the first time: I ‘popped his cherry’ – his words, not mine!
And watching his experience made me reflect and remind myself how important the benefits are for me.
The other morning I did something unusual. I left the house to walk to the train station without putting in my earphones.
For me, this is rare. My normal routine has me loading up a podcast within seconds of shutting the front door. I then listen to that for the first 30-odd minutes of my commute, before switching to music for the remainder.
On this particular day I had just minutes to reach the station, so decided not to plug in immediately. When I arrived, my rush was in vain: “Train cancelled”.
So I did something different. I sat on a bench on the platform and just listened without any other distraction. It’s no exaggeration to say it was a revelation.
Rather than the insulated world I’m used to, I truly stopped and paid attention to the world around me.
And the predominant sound I heard was the song of four or five different types of bird, beautifully chirruping and tweeting in harmony.
There was also the low murmur of the ticket attendant talking to a customer and the occasional beep of an electronic sensor, but I was overwhelmingly struck by the serenity and beauty of it all.
It’s so easy to stick your headphones on and block out the world around you – something many, if not most, of us are guilty of.
But changing routine occasionally and ‘noticing’ the world around us is something we should all do.