I have started running again… Primarily in a bid to shift the lugubrious life ring that has settled around my middle after a summer of too much easy-breezy boozing – Aperol Spritz, you are no longer my friend. But more importantly, these weekly pavement poundings are my excuse to catch up with my brother, as we puff and prattle our way around our preferred canal loop, jabbering on about anything and everything – something we get to do so little of these days.
He’s a GP with two young children and a college-age step-daughter, so lots going on, and I have the kids and the job, so we’re both really busy – busy, busy – that modern malaise we allow to get in the way of so much of what actually matters.
If we were going at a proper pace, he scolds me, we shouldn’t be able to talk this much. I look at my Runkeeper and lie that our pace isn’t that bad and try to distract him so that he doesn’t notice the couple on the far bank actually walking faster than us. But what kind of a therapy session would this be if we aren’t allowed to talk?
He’s recently discovered Eckhart Tolle and drops little Tolle-isms into our banter as we wend around the block. Tolle, I learn, is a “funny lookin” German-Canadian who made a stir with his book, The Power of Now, some ten years ago. I look him up, and he is indeed “funny lookin” – not quite Steve Buscemi in Fargo, but definitely a strong hint of Frodo. Oprah is a fan, and after downloading the audiobook, I’m fairly sold. “In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about just being,” he philosophises in his soft, sibilant accent. He talks about tapping into that place inside that is more powerful than the continuous mental noise. Yes please, we could all do with that.
Sophie White captures this “mental noise” so well in her piece on modern parenting on page 79 when she rails: “There is simply too much of everything; knowledge, screen time, motherhood memes, studies shared on social, expectations, unsolicited advice, acronyms, awareness weeks...”; the list goes on. While on page 85, Amanda Cassidy advises on how best we might help our young people, and ourselves, navigate the information overload of open-ended access to the internet – where it’s all too easy to get sucked into the endless scroll as relationships and mental health fracture around us.
On the flip side, Domino Whisker writes so beautifully about the new relationship she has discovered in the quiet life caring for her dad with Alzheimer’s. She writes about the comfort found together in long walks, pub dinners and their dog, Mr Blue. “I once asked him what his favourite memory was,” Domino writes on page 74. “He replied, ‘My favourite memory is being here with you right now.’ I like to think this was the truth, but deep down I know he simply didn’t have any other memories to choose from.” Little did Charlie Whisker know at the time, but Eckhart Tolle would be giving him a standing ovation.
Tolle states, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life, right now, is the foundation for all abundance.”
For now, I have these runs, and the irony is not lost on me that we talk mostly about how to slow down while bemoaning our feeble fortysomething pace.
But Runkeeper be damned, I look to my left and recognise abundance when I see it.
The October issue of IMAGE Magazine is on sale now.