The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad? Alice: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are. A tiny finger-sized bird the colour of a frothy cappuccino is making a nest outside my bedroom window. She wakes me up at the crack of dawn every morning with her bright warbles, tapping on the glass, as if to say will you wake up and watch me!? Then she drops into such a fast dive that the first time I saw it happen, I gasped and laughed out loud in wonder. And then, nonchalantly, she shows up again a few times with twigs stuffed in her beak, hovering midair and busying herself building that little nest. It’s so entertaining to watch. Through my eyes, her lightness of being and joyously spontaneous dives bring new meaning to an activity that might be otherwise boringly repetitive; it’s a heartwarming lesson for those of us in survival mode who’ve forgotten how to have fun. What makes your heart sing?I remember floundering a bit when asked this question a couple of years ago. And when the answer came, days later, it completely knocked me off centre. Spontaneity makes my heart sing. I had lost touch with it so much that I didn’t know what it meant any more. Even the thought of doing something spontaneous made me nervous. And oh, the chatter that came in the way! My inner voice was serious, skeptical, and terribly judgemental; I was beginning to listen out of habit, needing lightness but not knowing how to find it. On my fortieth birthday, I told it to shut up and acquiesced (awkwardly) to join my children and their friends on a foray to the Blue Bar in Delhi. It felt like a lifetime since I’d had such a madly impulsive utterly fun evening. In the years since, I’ve learned to treasure these exuberant moments. Spontaneity really has two parts and many layers and depths, as I’m learning. The first part is about being fully available to life as it unfolds around you in the moment. In-the-moment spontaneity allows you to experience going with the flow – it’s a state of grace, fluidity and lightness of being. It’s feeling a sense of wonder and warm intimacy with another human being and with life itself. This kind of spontaneity can make us connect more deeply than we realise: it’s when we don’t hold back – we ignore the voice in our heads and follow our hearts. In the second part, it moves at a slower pace and challenges you constantly to trust the flow of life. It asks you to allow for spaces in your life that aren’t always so tightly packed with plans, to let go a little bit now and then to experience the wonder and surprise that life can bring. It challenges you to step on to the dance floor once in a while and not stay in the balcony watching, where you might miss out all the fun. It invites you to move with the flow and not against it. And it provokes you to drop all the judgements you’re holding on to (or perhaps hiding behind) and tells you not to take life so seriously. When you move with life in this way, your reward is a life fully lived and richly experienced. To rediscover spontaneity, next time you’re at a school or neighbourhood playground, watch the children tumble and play. Listen to the happy laughter and notice their joyous faces. They embody spontaneity in ways that most adults need to relearn. Your body and heart remember how – you’re the only one who comes in the way. Ask what if? Dance a little; play a lot. Better still, find a partner in crime. That’s when magic happens.
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