Notting Hill: Connections and Reconnections

By Jane Parslow

The showers stopped and the sun was out for our wanderings in Notting Hill on Saturday 9th September.  Even before participants had arrived, I was making new and interesting connections, not least with Ada of The Tabernacle, who was making me a peppermint tea.  Our conversation started with my necklace, moved on to the Circle of Life and transitions (my area of coaching).  If Ada hadn’t had to work a shift I think she’d have been our seventh participant in the Street Wisdom event!

As I moved outside to await people’s arrival, a leaf dropped right in front of me – changing from green to brown in its own transition.

This event was part of the World Wide Wander – 35 events in 12 countries, and several groups in London at the same time as us.  The energy shifted as we all considered what we might achieve together!

All 6 participants were women, and all were contemplating making a change in their life – whether to move country, change job or simply consider options as to which direction to take.  A couple of the wanderers felt they were already practiced in the art of ‘mindfulness in motion’ and told me several times that they were good at observing their environment.  “Try today and see what happens.  It might be different … it might not”, was my response.

One of these women had recently moved to London and was thinking of how to connect with more people – a new take on a common Street Wisdom application of getting to know one’s new town.  In the sharing, she realised that she only looks at the environment and never at people, and was quite emotional about it. She talked movingly of feeling freer to look people in the eye. It was lovely to see her begin to look more directly at the rest of us as well.

The other found that she used her skill at observing the environment to look outwards … all the time, and to the exclusion of looking inside.  Her huge shift was to realise that she was actively avoiding thinking about herself and what she needs and wants.  There was a link there, too, to the procrastination she had chosen to address with her question.  She spoke of now feeling more open, and the realisation that she had become very ‘closed’, as well as her intent to keep practicing some ‘self-observation’.

For others, the level of observation Street Wisdom encourages was a revelation.  One wanderer who hadn’t really had a specific question found that her thoughts led her to the past rather than the future.  She had once enjoyed photographing streets and using her observations to frame her pictures.  Simply observing brought back that pleasure, and led her to wonder how she had stopped. She found a real reconnection to past pleasures and a way of bringing them back into her present and future.

On a lighter note, I was very impressed by the woman who managed to find the beauty even in a bird using her foot as a public toilet!  Apparently, it was the warmth on her foot she enjoyed … even after seeing what caused it!

And a final coincidence for the day:  my 9-year-old goddaughter was visiting, and I hurried home to see her after the Street Wisdom event.  The first thing she gave me was something she’d found in the garden while I was out.  A leaf transitioning from green to brown. Endings and beginnings!

by Jane Parslow