Before opening the book it was good to read the back synopsis. Because, before the first line read, I wondered whether it was Big Panda or Tiny Dragon that I would find affinity with.
No spoiler to follow here. It is a very quick read. This is a gentle yet profoundly deep story of the emotional responses of two ‘seemingly’ separate characters. Beginning an intentional small ‘across a river’ journey and ultimately experiencing ‘unlooked for’ larger change.
Tiny Dragon, in realising something is ‘missing’ from the stability that exists in current life, begins to experience a gnawing in his senses. A need and ambition to avoid the status quo of contented lifestyle. The subsequent analogies, new found experiences in exploration, dawning realisation that life holds a challenging and bigger unwelcome side to it, are beautifully explained, many times, in a sentence or a few sentences.
“This is not where we would choose to be, but it is where we are…..”
Panda goes on to suggest forgetting what’s happened, for just a moment and it may be one of the most beautiful moments ever experienced. Optimism.
I remember reading, an absolute age ago now, that sometimes a single event you experience can provide such a profound future memory that years down the line it brings either euphoria or despair again. And arises in an unknown, unlooked for moment. Even a past glorious event lasting a fleeting moment can surface in times of great need to support you in darker times. There are moments in life that do have the ability to change you permanently.
“Change,” said Big Panda, “even if you don’t know where it will lead, is better than stagnation. In some ways, the mind is much like a garden. It needs your care, attention and effort. Left to it’s own devices it will soon become overrun with weeds. And where there are too many weeds, flowers cannot grow.”
Tiny Dragon nodded. “But how do I pull up the weeds?”
Tiny Dragon bouncing between the fractious pessimist and reflecting on the regrets of ‘how great it all once was’ and ‘how difficult it is to lose it all’ also finds a propensity for optimism in the difficult presentations along the way. Simply by not giving up and continuing to try his best. He presents, in his qualities, optimistic thoughts whilst quietly attempting to arrive ‘somewhere safe’. Tiny Dragon’s journey, suddenly takes an enormous turn into feeling overwhelmed and completely lost. Only suddenly to find inspiration in something of profound simplicity.
Big Panda is the optimist that should be in all of us. Even though it may lay deeply down in the inner depths of some of us. Difficult to dive down and fetch. Panda’s optimism is worn on his sleeve. Why? Because Panda has lived a life of experiencing challenges. And is still here. I realised, in the reality of having lived a life of 66 years, that it is second nature to rely on the ‘I got through the hardships once before and ultimately did realise and enjoy the change’. How many times I could have upped and left staff nurse training……..,,I dread to think!
However. Can you ever arrive at a place where you truly believe you want to remain? Is it ever a realistic experience? You’ve arrived. You’re there in that moment, you’re satisfied and you breathe deeply. Hold your arms up towards the sky and simply smile. Then, bit by little bit, other unknowns become desired to be knowns….. the next challenges, having yourself survived other challenges, become easier to take on…..the possibilities of finding something ‘new and interesting’ arrives in an instant blink of the eyes……..the unlooked for dream that never was, suddenly now is, after it presents itself mysteriously ……the whispering voices that break through your quiet thoughts, jangle the heart strings and inherent senses, then force you into seeking the wonderful ideas and stories they impart.
This last paragraph is a result of how the book got me questioning whether I could ever truly keep still. Not in the Mindful, much needed ‘here is now’ moments. The times you stop, take stock, breathe deeply. Those valuable moments that lock stress away in a cupboard. But in the long term ‘what is still out there?’ I suppose it will always remain an inner compulsion.
The next intended book.