A Single Leaf

So, I know I keep going on and on about this, but I evidently find it charming, and its at least a break from music. The fact is, I find Baby Brother adorable. But its not just the fact that he’s got big, chubby cheeks and wide, blue eyes. What I love about him is watching him explore the world. I’ve mentioned before how many new sensations a baby comes in contact with every day, and how something that to us is quite straight forward (like a piece of hair, or a piece of string), to Baby Brother needs to be explored in a variety of sensory ways for hours on end. Its beautiful to watch him.
Yesterday we went for a walk, and he was getting grumpy in his buggy. That’s not usually like him, as going outside tends to quieten down completely. I think its because of all the sudden new sensations – the sights, the sounds, the feel of the air on his face, the coolness on his arms and legs, the movement of the carriage. There is so much going on, but all subtle, gentle sensations (not like a Hi5 episode on TV), things that you need to concentrate on to feel and experience. I think, often, with something like TV, its overstimulating for him, there’s too much going on, its too loud, too bright, it just confuses rather than calms. Whereas, pop him in his buggy and ride around and he’ll be happy for hours. Well, 45 – 50 minutes, which is hours in baby land.
Anyway, we went for a walk, as, for the first time in about a week, the weather was sunny enough and warm enough to take him outside. But, as I said, he started to get a bit grumpy. So, I picked up a leaf from a tree on the side of the road and handed it to him. I’d done this before and knew that it would occupy him for a good 20 minutes. This time, however, I watched him as he played with the leaf, and it was just beautiful.
First he stared at it, holding it by the stem as it had been given to him. He had this little look of confusion, possibly compacted by the fact that his eyes were slightly crossed to enable him to focus properly on this leaf that was right in front of his face. Then he brought his other hand over, slowly, and stroked part of the leaf. He stopped. Stared some more. Put his little fingers up and pinched the leaf. Then, he gently folded over part of the leaf and watched it spring up again when he let go. He did it again for a different part of the leaf. He folded it over entirely, and let it spring up. Then he transferred it to the other hand, so that he was now holding it by the leaf, and the stem was sticking up. He stared at that for a while. Then he brought out his other little hand and touched the stem. His hand leapt back, it mustn’t have felt like he expected. He went back another time to try again. This time he flicked the stem back and forth, back and forth for a while. Then he brought up both hands and smushed the leaf up in his fingers, breaking it apart and watching as the pieces fell through his chubby little fingers. The whole process must have taken 15 minutes. Just to examine one leaf. When he realised that the leaf was gone, and it wasn’t going to spring up again, he started to make whingey noises. So, I picked up a different leaf, different shape, different colour, and handed it to him. Instant silence. Again, the staring. The contemplation, and then the exploration began again…
It was fabulous to watch. It must be wonderful to have so many new sensations to explore. Sensations that are completely and utterly new, like that. But, I also felt like it was a lesson many people (including myself) could take on board every day. No matter how much we’ve seen, we’ve never seen it all, and there’s always going to be something new to see, taste, touch, hear, smell in a day. It would be wonderful to be able to approach each new sensation with that same sense of exploration, of complete willingness to take it all on board, every aspect. Of course, the problem is time. We don’t have time to be sitting around for 20 minutes and examining in minute detail everything we come across.
I had the opportunity to do something similar last Thursday. I had the morning and afternoon off, as I was doing an evening shift, so I went for a long walk into Kinsale. It was miserable weather, so, once I got there, I stopped at the delightful Perryville Tea House for a drink. The place was all done up like a lovely, old-fashioned country house. But, when the tea (and cheesecake – I couldn’t resist) came out, I was even more delighted. Normally I’m the sort of person who thinks ‘bigger is better’ when it comes to food and drink. My meals are often ridiculously over-sized, a hang-over from, again, years of eating disorders, and this strange anxious feeling somewhere in my head that I may not get enough food, that I may get hungry and to protect against this potentially drastic situation at all costs.
However, my Perryville Tea House tea and cake were dainty sized. Doll sized. This would be something that would normally put me into a slight panic, and feeling of not getting my money’s worth etc. etc. Not so on this day. The tea cup and saucer and plate were all beautiful china, decorated with green and gold around the edges. My little table had a milk jug, sugar bowl (with sugar cubes) and a little jar of flowers. I was overwhelmed by the sense that this was absolutely perfect, and that here were enough sensations, visual, oral, sensual, olfactory, aural (music being played) to entertain me for a good hour, as long as I took my time and savoured them all. It was one of the most peaceful and delightful times I have ever spent in a cafe. There was no-one to talk to, no book to distract me, all I could do was focus on what was in front of me. By the time I’d finished I felt more satisfied than if I had come in and eaten half a cheesecake and drunk a gallon of tea. 
Of course, its a lesson I’m learning slowly, and with each 2 baby steps forward, I’ll take one back. Though Thursday was lovely, I was back to old habits on Friday and Saturday due to my appalling mood. Still, being around Baby Brother is a constant reminder of how wonderful the simplest things can be if you just take the time to experience them properly.

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Filed under Introspection, Random

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