Businesses have to expand. The economy has to grow. Our cars have to get bigger. Our holidays more exotic. Our houses more lavish. The food fancier. Our clothes more extravagant.
All pointing in one direction: forward.
What about standing still for a moment? What about doing nothing? Rest? Allowing the busy-ness of the world surrounding us do their thing while we walk, not ahead this time, but around in a circle?
One story I’ll never forget it that of a young woman who had travelled India for three months. She was completely exhausted and decided to do some kind of mindfulness/yoga course in Sri Lanka to relax. One of the first exercises was to sit and do nothing for five hours. Nothing.
She said that she found those hours more difficult than anything she had encountered during her three-months travels across India. And this was just the first of many similar exercises.
I have been thinking of this in the context of therapies. I have observed this tendency to celebrate achievements following exercise/therapy: look what Pádraig can do! Lift his pelvis off the floor, push his wheelchair across his room, hold his head all by himself. All of this is great. All of this is necessary.
But only if it has a purpose and a meaning. Only if it is not done ‘per se’. Only if it not done just for its own purpose.
What is happening in therapy must have a meaning for Pádraig’s life. It must enable him. It must allow him to do something he wants to do. At the centre of everything, the focus, must be Pádraig feeling that he is alive and that he lives with us in community. It can never be “look what Pádraig can do” but must always be “brilliant what you can do”. Never a performance, always integration.
Pádraig has figured out with us how to survive his catastrophic accident. Pádraig has figured out with us how to improve his physical condition using therapies. Now we have to figure out how to make life together the best it can possibly be (while not forgetting the need to survive and the need to exercise).
And for that, we might, for a moment, have to stop and pause and go around in circles for a change.