For as long as I can remember there has always been a poem stuck on my fridge at home. It’s blue tacked on there, next to the bright red magnetic picture frame filled with the school photo of my little cousin, amongst an assortment of other colourful magnets that my family has gathered over the years. It had been cut out of a magazine by my mum many years ago and when the paper yellowed and curled at the edges she typed it out fresh and returned it to its place on the fridge. For years I never really looked at it or understood why she kept it on there, I think I was just too young to appreciate what it really meant.
I have never been a fan of poetry (especially during GCSE and A Level English!) but this poem is different. ‘The Slow Dance’ was written by a terminally ill girl in a hospital in New York. The girl is telling the reader to slow down, appreciate every moment of every day. She questions the reader, making them feel guilty about opportunities they’ve missed because they’ve said they don’t have the time or been too busy rushing. The line that resonates with me the most is, “do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head?” – this couldn’t be a more accurate description of me. Since leaving school and moving away from home I’m constantly thinking about what work needs to be done?…what will I cook tomorrow?…do I need to do washing?….when shall I go food shopping? All those exciting tasks that come with growing up and moving out.
Like many people, I do feel like I rush through each day focusing on what I need to do next rather than living in the moment. The older I get, the faster the time seems to pass by and far too much of that is spent being stressed or worried. I know so many people who have lost loved ones in the past year and it puts all my worries into perspective and makes me realise how irrelevant my stress will feel in the future. Right now I’m sitting on the bus writing this but what I should be doing is enjoying my journey, it’s a beautiful day so I should be looking out the window, people watching and just enjoying this quiet time to myself before the day really begins. I think it’s time to do exactly what the unnamed terminally ill girl advised to do:
Slow down and enjoy the life we are so privileged to have.