The Fidget

I spent most of my childhood climbing trees, racing bikes, and tearing around the neighborhood like a crazed windmill, legs and arms flying. In family movies, I was that blur running across the screen while the rest of the family smiled and waved at the camera. My body just seemed to have an internal propeller that I didn’t even have to think about. It was always ON.

Movement is part of how I know my world. It’s also something that brings me joy. When I’m moving, I take deeper breaths, my body fluids swirl around, I can feel air and light all around me—in other words, I feel alive, connected, uplifted.

I suppose in today’s world I would have been labelled hyperactive, or attention deficient. But as a child sitting up in the plum tree, you can bet I was paying attention—to the bugs crawling up the crumbly bark, to the tangy smell of the new leaves, to the song I felt rising from inside that old, stoic, generous tree. It gave me deep peace, helped me feel more at home inside my own skin.

Paying attention comes naturally if you are interested—intrigued—curious—surprised—delighted. What if sitting still isn’t all that important? What if what’s really important—crucially important—is learning more and more about what draws your genuine attention—not what distracts you or draws you away from yourself, but what has the ability to meet the place inside you that sings? What has the ability to reach down and grab that place and bring it up to the light—to your awareness—so you can share it with a world desperately in need of more joy?

What if those fidgety parts of ourselves are carrying a message that whatever it is we are doing in that moment—isn’t feeding our soul? In fact, what if paying attention to the fidget—playing it out, letting it fly, and following it to its mark—turns out to be your path to joy? Sometimes we get to the Yes by really listening to the No.

So here’s to plum trees, and kinetic legs, and flying into an embrace that returns you to yourself. I wonder … what makes you fidget?


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The mind of the day draws no attention to it;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words
Drawing us to listen inward and outward

John O'Donohue, from The Inner History of a Day