Want to develop? Stop right here

18 November, 2020

I’m no Domestic Goddess. My home is far from perfect. But if you look on my top kitchen shelf tonight, you’ll see the glittering sight of three people’s different birthday gifts, wrapped, ribboned and bagged, each with their respective thoughtfully chosen and penned card by their sides. And as you regard my gleeful face, you’ll know I’m a woman who likes to get ahead of herself. Going to need your swimmers next weekend? I think you’ll find they’re washed and on the dryer by Wednesday. Think the special offer period for your broadband is coming to an end? Don’t worry, I’ve compared the market and we’re signed up to a new better deal from next month. What about that caravan in Tenby next summer? Pleeease! It’s sorted. This kind of behaviour is often admired in our world. Moving on, getting ahead. Maybe you’re admiring my domestic achievements, and enjoying a few of your own such accomplishments too.

Tonight though, this had me thinking about the many, many times that Foster Carers have spoken with me about how desperately they want their fostered child to get on and develop faster. ‘This child must pick up the pace’, they say, ‘because a great big world is knocking and this child isn’t ready, because other children are maturing and this child isn’t keeping up, because I can’t foster forever and we’re running out of time’. So many serious worries, and I can’t argue with any of them. Time is passing, and moving towards adulthood does bring many challenges that we want our children to be ready for.

The inconvenient truth though, is that however many tasks we can get ahead of, none of us can get ahead of our development. Tasks and development are different beasts of course. Development has its own pace, and won’t surrender to our schedules. It won’t arise simply because we’ve ticked off the to do list. Of course, there are things we can do to clear a path for development to motor onwards. And funnily enough, one of those things is to be precisely where we already are. Not ahead of ourselves at all. Because where we are, in this present moment, lies the learning available to us right now. And using the entirety of ourselves, which is available to us when we’re not striving to be elsewhere, we can fully benefit from what’s available to us in the present.

When I talk with Foster Carers about such things I tend to emphasise that sometimes, when development is happening, we feel as if we’re doing nothing at all. We might be sitting with a feeling, experiencing how to tolerate it. We might be sitting with someone we care about, holding their hand through a tough time, not having a clue what’s really going on in their heads. We might be repeating an action that we’ve done thousands of times already before. We might even be repeating the same mistake time and again, needing to become more and more familiar with it before we can at last spot its hidden message to us.

Rather inconveniently, development requires patience, surrendering time and again to whatever needs attention in this present moment, with no guarantees about when the finish line will arrive. Of course there really is no finish line to development at all. Just steps along the way. So if you want to develop, or help someone else to, don’t look anywhere else, don’t fixate on the future, don’t measure progress or compare with others. Just be fully present here, right here, right now. Use all of yourself to attend fully to ‘THIS’, whatever your particular ‘THIS’ is right now, and you’ll be developing. That’s for sure.

Jen & Jael

A Gwent Partnership Board Service