• Mark J. Keenan

Simple Things


These thongs are made for walkin'

Most days, I like to find a few simple things to remind me of this journey I am on.

At times, it will be an item which takes me away from the moment, and reminds me of a particular time, or place, or person. Other times, it will bring me into the present, evoking appreciation of life.


Some repeat, happening almost every day, and I use them to ground me whenever they occur. Others happen because I am actually looking for something to connect to, maybe to break an unhelpful thought pattern or just to be present. And finally, some just are there, and I notice them.


An almost everyday occurrence is the arrival of Pat. Pat is the name I have given to the Willy Wagtail who frequents my front lawn, just outside the window of where I write. Pat loves to flit across the grass, pecking at it, and also sit and dance on the fence. Sometimes Pat sings, though they usually do this upstairs, perched high on the balcony. I always stop and watch when Pat arrives, no matter what I am in the middle of.

Pat and friend

I have a pair of well-worn thongs which I wear around the house, and to walk the dog during summer. Printed on the top side is a pair of skeletons, one on each foot, facing away from each other with a banana in their bony hands. They are not particularly orthotically designed, and I should probably invest in a better pair, but these fifteen-year-old flaps of rubber are still serviceable and should see me through a few more years yet. When I put them on, they remind me how my family feels; comfortable and supportive, shaped over time so I fit in exactly right, homely and loving.


I find my phone distracting and sometimes find myself checking it constantly, in case of an email or message. You never know when something important might happen, right? When I realise this is happening, I use the phone for something else; usually taking photos, sometimes for sketching. The cameras on phones are so fantastic today, and the options for ideas endless. I like to take unusual photos. From a different angle, close-up, far-away. Lying on the sand at the beach to take a photo brings you into the present, wet sand on your chest and elbows, the waves crashing in front of you.


Of course, I haven’t always done these things. Once I was “all business”, rushing here and there, completing tasks, creating a whirlwind of urgency and importance. Life was a race which I thought was only going to win by working hard at everything. But in the past few years, I’ve realised it’s not a race, it’s a journey. One I should notice, with all the smooth parts and the speed bumps, and the stopping and the starting, and one I will enjoy far more when I am present for it.


Giants at the beach

© Mark J. Keenan