A few years ago, sitting on a step in rustic Madagascar waiting for my husband, Danny to check his email at the “Internet Cafe”, I momentarily managed to pin down my twirling thoughts (of wanting to get back to our cabin ASAP) and noticed my surroundings. Next to me was a little Malagasy girl enraptured in her straw hat. And so I found solace in that I at least had the opportunity to take some interesting photographs.
Though of a few of these photos have held a prominent position on our lounge wall ever since, it wasn’t until now that I thought about that encounter.
I don’t know if this little girl would have preferred the latest Western toys and gadgets if given the choice, but she certainly had something to teach:
- Simplicity’s close relative is creativity. This girl, untainted by distractions and stimuli overload, invented so many extraordinary ways to play with a hat, each evoking in her surprise and delight.
- The world can be looked at with eyes of awe. There is nothing stopping us from being as mesmerized by the little things. It’s challenging to get beyond our jam-packed lifestyles and overtaxed minds, but with a little more consciousness we too can look at life with wonder. A gratitude journal helps, where you jot down things you’re thankful for on a daily basis – the more specific and detailed the better.
- True present-ness is possible. She was so focused on the hat that she was oblivious even to her curious-looking onlooker (with a straw hat of my own).
- Solitude doesn’t equal loneliness. Though she probably had no option but to play alone, her contentment was palpable reminding us how satisfying quiet quality time by ourselves can be.
- Life really is what happens in the in-between moments. I was so blinded by my wanting to be elsewhere that I almost overlooked the experience I was there for in the first place.
May we all be aware and able to turn down the volume of our chattering minds, crank up our imagination and if we can, spend some moments alone doing something basic we love – reading a good book, lying in the sun, watching the clouds, floating on water. And may we do so minus guilt – it’s wise to look after yourself so you can walk into your busy days restored and whole.