November 5th is fireworks night in England. It's when we celebrate something that did not happen – when Guy Fawkes and his accomplices were foiled at the last moment in their attempt to blow up the House of Lords and assassinate King James back in 1605. As a child I loved watching the little firework displays my father and other men in the neighborhood would put together on a patch of local wasteland. As a man I am awed by the spectacular displays now organized by the city council.
This year I was caught unexpected by the beauty of fireworks. Unexpected both in time and place. Sunday 4th November my lovely lady had treated us both to an afternoon in a Spa facility at a nearby Center Parcs. We spent four hours relaxing on the water beds, sweating in the sauna, and having our bodies massaged by the jacuzzi jets in the pool. When we emerged it was already dark, the shapes of the trees silhouetted against the sky. And as we stood taking in the cool air there was a flash as a rocket exploded into a thousand falling stars. Followed by another, then another. The Center Parcs fireworks display was taking place a day early…
Watching this display I was struck by one essential truth – and at Center Parcs of all places! A truth I tend to forget when caught up in the routine and in the hustle and bustle of my every day life: that everything is happening for the very first time. A truth that I realized with each burst of man-made firework beauty.
As a result of this experience I have returned to a daily practice that had become sporadic: I take a little time every morning to absorb the truth of ‘the very first time’. And – as with many practices - it is the nature around me that makes this real. At my breakfast table I watch the rain fall or the branches of the tree sway in the wind outside the window. In the local park, on my way to a meeting, I stop to watch two squirrels squabble over a fallen nut or the Jay on the branch of a tree, cock its head as I pass underneath.
The benefits of this practice spill effortlessly over and weave their subtle benefits into the hustle and bustle of my life - into my interactions with friends old and new, into my writing or work with colleagues, into the activities that I believed I do by habit, into every breath that takes me…
© David Dodd; November 2012
David is a Life and Business Coach based in Amsterdam (NL) and Bath (UK); for more information see www.awareness-and-change.com