JOHN GRIFF COLUMN: In our hectic lives, we need time to slow down
If you ask the question of people, many will say they are rushed off their feet, but are they really?
Why do they say that? Why do we say that? For whose benefit do we say those things?
The past few weeks have been difficult for many people, not only with the prospect of substantial rises in the costs of living from the increase in the government’s fuel price cap, but also with lots of service providers announcing their own price hikes.
I’ve lost count of the number of letters and email notifications I’ve received – mobile phone rates have gone up, internet costs have gone up and so too have so many other things.
Margins for businesses are going to be squeezed shortly with increases in corporate taxation and we’re all going to be handing over more to the chancellor privately soon.
And last week the Bank of England joined in with its increase in the Base Rate, so mortgage rates will be on their way up too.
Costs never go down, do they?
The effect on me has been a sense that I will have to work harder and do more just to stand still. Again.
But is that really the case? Balancing at least some of that largely self-imposed pressure over the past week has been something which surprised me by its simplicity.
Last Friday I drove into the countryside to talk to local singer songwriter, Lew Bear, who has a new EP out.
‘Rose of the Shires’ is the lead-off track, a very personal appreciation of this county and lyrical beyond its actual words.
We had agreed to meet by the church on the Fawsley Hall estate and, as it turned out, we picked a fantastic day to do so.
Under gin-clear skies and a wonderfully sunny morning, we both parked up, walked a short distance and set up the microphones.
A light breeze was blowing through the shallow valley that links the adjacent lakes; lakes with tall reeds that took that breeze and turned it into a gentle accompaniment to our conversation.
Lew is a country man at heart. His affection for being in the countryside became very clear as the recording went on.
Once we’d finished, he headed back to his car and I started to break down the recording gear and pack it away again.
And I made sure I took my time about it.
It seems to have been a long winter.
But while I appreciate that we’ve probably still got some cold and foggy mornings to come before the traditional April showers of next month, for a moment all of that was forgotten.
Here, I could hear birdsong, feel the sun on my face and back, and watch the few people visible enjoying a spot of fishing, walking through the tiny churchyard or strolling past fields dotted with sheep and new-born lambs.
The lambs, in particular, were making the most if it; some lying down in the sun, others feeding and occasionally just leaping about as we expect them to.
Luckily I had left myself plenty of journey time to get back to Northampton and my next appointment, because in that environment and moment, I didn’t want to leave.
We rush around as though our lives depend on it – and maybe that’s often true – but I became aware of the real value in just slowing down, taking a little time and recognising what value my surroundings were offering before I headed in the direction of the M1 and home.