As I continue my rambles around Italy and now Malta, I have been surprised at the random memories that pop into my head at some of the most obscure times. In this vein, dear readers, take a walk with me down memory lane as we re-visit an old friend from my childhood that popped into my subconscious recently.
As a very young child I remember sitting down every morning, promptly at 8.00am to watch Romper Room in glorious black and white. There she was, darling Miss Betty, imploring her rapturous pint sized audience to listen to Mr Do Bee and “be good”.
Dear old Mr Do Bee was a hard taskmaster for we children of the 60s, caught as we were in the post baby boom conservatism and desperate to break free and run amok in the free loving decade, personified by liberation and endless choices.
Our parents spent many hours hoping that we would end up like them only slightly better; study hard, get a good job, settle down to domestic life, retire with the gold watch and realise a lifetime of “doing”. Personally, all I wanted to do was sing. I remember swinging around the back yard, umbrella in hand, pretending to be Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. I had those tap steps down pat I tell you! That was before I discovered an uncanny resemblance and love of Liza Minnelli (please don’t judge me…….)
Therefore, every morning it was with childish trepidation that I listened to Mr Do Bee, asking us – “do be good!” That didn’t sound like much fun at all.
I’m beginning to wonder however if maybe I misunderstood. Perhaps Mr Do Bee was asking us to really look at those two words – DO and BE. We could take the usual path and spend a lifetime of “doing” – working, parenting, keeping busy, even being the checklist tourist!
Or we could choose to spend a little more time “being”.
This means taking the time to notice, really hearing our children and what they are telling us, watching our families and friends and being truly present in their lives. Implicit in this is the ability to be fully present in our own lives too and this choice involves allowing stillness into our lives for no other reason than to be ourselves in all our wonderful shades of light and dark.
There is a beautiful phrase I’ve learnt here in Italy: la dolce far niente. Roughly translated it means the sweetness of doing nothing.
This is much easier to do on holidays. It takes a little more practice to instill this in everyday life. But those of you of a certain age may now be able to hear Mr Do Bee in your head as you read this and maybe, just maybe, his little voice will remind you of the art of being.
Yes Mr Do Bee I can hear you too – and I’m listening!