The wind was howling, my ears burning from the cold, I wrapped my woolly scarf and winter jacket tighter. I was walking along Westbourne Grove, a fairly busy shopping street in West London, on my way to get some food for dinner. ‘Help’ ‘Help me’ ‘Help!’ there was a man hanging onto a post on the pavement, swinging around it, trepidatiously, moving from the pavement into the road and back, his white hair standing upright from the wind, with a terrified look on his face.
People were walking past him, these things aren’t that unusual on a London street and most people’s heads were huddled down in this weather! Being hungry and cold, I almost walked past too but he genuinely looked like he was in trouble, so I stopped and asked if I could help? He said ‘I’m blind and I’m drunk!’ I saw in his other hand a white stick waving around and realised that he was literally ‘blind drunk’.
I asked him where he was trying to get to, he said ‘home’, he was at the pub and drank too much. (it’s happened to the best of us!) I said ‘where do you live? do you know where home is from here?’ He was distressed and close to tears, saying he normally knew but he’s lost all sense of direction. I could just about make this out as the rain lashed down.
A little more talking and we worked out the direction he needed to go in. He took my arm and off we went, back the way I’d just come from. He told me the street and we ducked in, he lost his keys, then found them, phew! We went downstairs opened his basement flat and he was finally home, turning he grabbed my arm thanking me profusely saying ‘who are you? An angel?’ I said ‘no, just someone passing by, you were asking for help, so I stopped.’ I wished him well and carried on to the supermarket.
That whole incident probably took about 30 mins, time is relative to how we are feeling, I forgot I was hungry & cold when I was focusing on someone else’s needs. We can plan all we like, we can try and control our days, hours and minutes as though our life depended on it. Sometimes it does! Usually, though, many of us create more and more things that we think we ‘have’ to do ‘right now’ and stress ourselves out trying to accomplish them.
Why do we do that to ourselves? Are we missing the point of being alive? Are we missing those moments that make us enjoy this human experience, that enables us to respond to someone that might need help, to connect with others and ourselves? Do we miss those moments when we hear that little voice inside trying to guide us in another direction, whilst we continue blindly moving further away from what we truly need? We’ll never know what we’re missing as we race around and do more and more stuff in the fear that we might miss out – and what we might be missing are those magical moments, the ones where Angels appear.
Some things do require us to get on a rocket and go for it, but not everything is urgent, we’re often going around the same wheel in the same way when there are moments during the day that we can say ‘no’ or we can stop and help someone or we can simply stop and reconnect with ourselves. Then we can tune into what is really valuable for us to be spending our time on.
If we don’t then we can end up hurtling off in a direction that quite possibly isn’t going to fulfill us. If we don’t stop and reconnect with ourselves, we can lose our sense of direction. And like the man who was drunk and without sight, sometimes we’re forced to stop, sometimes we have no choice but to ask for help, sometimes we’re in a place where we have to trust another human being (or an angel!) in order to get to where we need to go, to arrive at a destination that is both an ending and a beginning of another story, another cycle, and so it goes on.
The planet will continue to turn long after we are gone and if we’re lucky what we’ll remember when we die won’t be how much we got done on our to do lists, it’ll be the moments of connection, of inspiration & joy, of giving and receiving, it’s the moments of kindness that matter, and that includes words and actions that are kind to ourselves, so let’s stop beating ourselves up for what we didn’t do – it likely doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Instead, if you feel disconnected or like you might be losing your way, spend a couple of minutes to re-connect. Being in nature helps, moving our body helps, breathing consciously helps, calling a friend can help.
A one minute practice that may work for you is to either stand or sit, put your right hand on heart & left hand on belly, breathe in through the nose and sigh the air out through the mouth a few times whilst feeling your feet firmly on the ground (even stomping a couple of times) and saying either out loud or to yourself ‘I am here, I am safe, I am in my body – this moment matters’ That’s it, repeat it as often as you need to through the day.
Until next time, keep looking up.
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