I am sitting on the plane to Australia. A visit home to see my family and I’m reminded of the last time I saw one of my littlest nieces. We were at the beach. And I was delighted in watching her play. She had such joy and presence in her every move. She would stop to start digging in the sand with such volition. Such intention. And in a flash moment a butterfly would pass her and she would literally LEAP up from her place in the sand and RUN after it. Simply exclaiming “Butterfly!”. She ran and ran and ran reaching forwards for this butterfly until it was no longer in her sight. At which point she stopped, came back and kept digging. And there were plenty more butterflies. I’m not even exaggerating. I was giddy with joy watching her delight.
In that moment I realised the pureness of the expression ‘childlike wonder’. What my three year old niece taught me in that moment was that joy is a choice and it really can be expressed at any time and over the simplest pleasures in life. She also taught me about presence. Most of my trips home to Australia feel limited with space. The diary is filled to the brim in order for me to capture as many loved ones in my sights as possible. And yet over time I’m learning the art of presence. Of allowing myself to let go of the perfection of a pre-planned trip and instead allow the moments to catch me by surprise. Instead I’m choosing to focus on the smallest pleasures. The butterflies.
It’s not easy for me. I’ve always been a ‘doer’ and a ‘planner’. Which would mean the old me would jam-pack the diary, fit everyone in, worry whether I was seeing the right people for the right amount of time in the right way, get stressed that I was being judged and therefore wouldn’t get the level of deep connection and love I so craved from such a trip. I’d be there but I wouldn’t really be there. Because at each coffee date, meal or drive to the next destination I’d be planning. Conversations would be about ‘where are you off to next’ rather than ‘where are you right now?’. Over the years I have completely shifted my approach. I’ve found a better groove for my version of balance. I’ve realised I need to take care of my own needs otherwise I come home exhausted. And I’m getting closer to having more moments of experience rather than rushing through my checklist.
And again, this trip feels even more different. I booked my flights just over a week ago. And I booked the rest of my internal flights two days ago. While there have been some of the usual pillars in the place with my planning (where I need to be when, family is across five different cities), I’ve been sitting with a new intention. One of surrender. One of presence. One of knowing that life will unfold exactly as it is meant to be.
Where in your life right now could you focus more on the moment rather than the checklist? What beauty and joy would you find? What butterflies are you missing out on right now and what’s the one thing you could do differently today to shift your focus?
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