A brain tumor is probably the last thing you'd associate with mindfulness. But meet my Dad.
Hands up if you think mindfulness is a good idea. Keep it raised if you actually manage to do anything about it.
I remember once asking the philosopher and meditation expert Peter Russel if, after a lifetime of meditation it was still hard to be present. "It's easier to be present", he replied. "But it's just as hard to remember to be present."
So with most of us. We know it makes sense to be mindful. But we still fill our minds with noise and distraction.
I know I do. That's the story behind Street Wisdom a new social enterprise founded on the notion every moment is extraordinary and every street full of inspiration. Few of us give ourselves time or permission to really focus on the world around us, so Street Wisdom provides that. And yet. While I truly believe our strap line "answers are everywhere", on busy days like last Friday I shove that belief to the side of my mind and get lost in the noise like everyone else.
Then I visited my Dad in hospital.
A multi-disciplinary, serial professional (dentist, lawyer, coroner, judge) Bernard Pearl's life is currently restricted to a hospital bed where he has more than enough time to dwell on the moment. Around him people are whiling away their day staring at screens or into mid air. Not my dad. Since becoming an enthusiastic, if very self-deprecating, amateur artist later in life, every object is a potential subject. And every meal. So each time the nurses deliver him a tray of food he sketches it.
Friend and mentor, Charles Handy once posed the question 'what would it be like to live your life as though it was an artwork?' and I think that's what my father is doing - savouring the wonder of inconsequential moments. Never one to be too serious or self-regarding, he swears cancer has actually improved his drawing. Certainly, from where I am sitting, at the bottom of his bed, his sense of perspective is impeccable.
Is there Carcinoma? Yes. But is there Still Life? Absolutely!
PS If you are thinking about unleashing your inner sketcher/poet/potter/filmmaker/actor/you name it... take a look at the wonderful 64 Million Artists who are dedicated to unlocking the creative potential of every human being in the UK.