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  • Stillness


11 April 2022

Gerard Rahman, Partner |

I would have been about eight years old when my uncle and I walked through a deep forest in England. He was a soldier. We came across a gypsy camp – must have been at least 30 people living there. He stopped, and I stopped next to him. He warmly said hello and waved. They nodded in acknowledgement but didn’t move. There were several Alsatian dogs – each would have been heavier than me. They started barking and running towards us. I don’t know if dogs gallop – but from my height….it felt like they were galloping. You didn’t need to tell me to run…obviously, I was going to run.

He asked me to look down at my shoes in a calm, even voice. My laces needed to be re-tied. He told me to kneel and do the right one first – he was talking consistently throughout, then he asked me to tie the left shoe – it felt as if the world had gone into slow motion – I was kneeling for what seemed to be an eternity. I just listened to his voice. I don’t remember the words – but I distinctly remember the evenness of his voice. Once I’d finished the second shoe, I looked up. I became aware of my uncle’s right hand close to me. I saw the palm of his left hand outstretched towards the dogs, who had stopped. I then realised that the gypsies were standing – calling out to the dogs. My uncle knew that it was going to be okay. He kept me focussed on one step at a time. If I had run – he wouldn’t have been able to protect me so easily.

That experience has stayed with me over the years. Could it be my uncle striking a pose now commonly associated with a character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Could it be my preference for slip-on shoes? Perhaps. But I do know that it was the absolute stillness of my uncle. He was comfortable being still. He was undoubtedly present, being still. It felt as if he was in control whilst being still. My uncle left us many years ago now, but I try to be still at my most difficult moments. Not consistently successful, but the key is to over-ride my own natural instinct to react and instead study the situation and respond.

If I had followed my instinct and run for the hills, that athlete I was at the age of 8, it might well be a different story that I recount now.  

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