Endless


I want to give the news a miss. The world will keep on spinning, even as I bury myself in a book. The deliciousness of being buried in words. Perhaps you are not curious about what I am reading. It certainly is not the old playbook of a Groundhog Day – endlessly looping through our lives. Loop, loop. It’s strange how there is an endlessness to it all in a fixed kind of way. Endlessly fixed. How odd. There is nothing to commend it, even to the House. Everywhere there is bluster and hot air, a criminal brinkmanship, talk of delays, day old chicks getting priority. Lorry parks coming out of our ears. I am imagining the lorry drivers in their cabs, the rising anger. Windscreens of breath, the air blue. Clogged endlessly everywhere – the fixed positions taken – until one day – ah, yes, the joy of one day – it will have an ending.


The House reference is the House of Commons


Breakfast


You can feel how it turns. This season is turning on its heels. All the leaves are brown – not yet quite true, but California dreaming plays on my mind. I had been for my walk, pushing weights up the hill. Just me and my breath. Out of it, reaching the summit, yet ever so, deeply grateful for life. We take so much for granted. Like our freedom to roam. I imagine the ancestors climbing the rocky outcrops, reaching for the panorama, feeling the lie of the land, thorn trees standing guard. Where they stood, the African sky amplified. Where I stood today, priceless too, even in the deepening Autumn, the colours changing. I arrive home and set the table for breakfast. It’s our staple. Boiled eggs and toast. She with honey, me with marmalade.


Sitting


In the dark, I step out of myself, travelling beyond this place. Momentarily I am drawn far out in space, looking back at the blue. I am startled by the sheer size of beauty, then remember. The Amazon is on fire and how we strut our stuff, puffed up with our own importance. It is a conscious decision to return to earth’s gravity, and to the East. I want to sit. Sitting under the Bodhi tree quietens the breath. It’s a reminder how I am not in control, bar for the time and space around me. My breathing reminds me of my wildness. My mind and breath are one. For a moment anyway – before my monkey mind gets stuck on another theme. Usually, rage against the shallow men. Hush. Aretha Franklin plays a song in my head, reminding me of the beauty of the world and my humanity. I go back to my breath, my heart and lungs, one with my mind and the ancestors who roamed the savannah. For a moment anyway.


Being here

The world is incredibly beautiful this morning. I had been struck by the silence of the day. On my way here, the shock of seeing a sleeping youth on a bench; he was dressed in beanie and gloves, deeply pale, hands held seemingly in silent prayer. Finding a view of the sea, I look out towards France. Passersby quietly chatter and rubber soles on promenade sounds out the joggers. Even the waves against the shingle make a show of movement, a languid lap if you like. There is something reassuring that this sound will outlive all of us. The pier, in the distance, is in a yoga position, sitting , meditating, communing. A picture postcard expression. Just to the west,  a small yacht looks back at us on shore, bobbing gently, drifting. Jesus was a sailor but, for him, the simple boat. Nothing fancy, only his fisher buddies. As for me, sitting with the sky and sea in communion, drawing me out, away from the empty promises, the banality of the sound and fury of those who strut, signifying nothing but cheap tricks. In a different time and space, a man sits under a tree, an antidote, making friends with his mind.

Unexpected


These mornings – strangely – are a kind of therapy. The up in the night, the house all quiet. It’s the rage that wakes me. It sits there, deep like one of those wells where you can’t see the bottom. These mornings heal with the thoughts collected, drawn together, no longer squiggles on paper or the mind awash with anger. There is a light opposite and – beyond that – no light, the country breathes in the darkness. There is a warmth in the air but reminders everywhere – the leaves on the grass sign the coming Autumn and beyond that, winter. Everything is coming towards us if we are not careful. It does not have to be like that. Wait in the silence of the room, feel the calming, and be present in the dark. The rage will even drift off.


Encounters


That singular moment of an encounter with my own failure. It is a work in progress, unpicking it. It has its own poetry – but not at the time. Only much later. The mind has its own fog. The long reach, the journey out of it takes time and work to discover, to reveal, to become known. It is reducible, to be frank, to a kind of cowardice. When all is said and done. A failure of moral courage. We make all kinds of excuses at the time, often we are trapped, ensnared by circumstances, even perhaps terrified. I remember the terror so well. The poetry now is how, in looking back, the would’ves, could’ves, should’ves, have a future tense. I will say it how I see it. There is a freedom, at last, a healing and poetry meets our human condition, rewilding us.


Looking back


The past is a funny thing. Memories are like rivers. They find their own course and then carve out their own path. A journey back to the place takes me to the same terrain. It’s a real job to try to think of other things outside of that moment. A conversation with someone who was there at the time provides an altogether different lens, a reminder of something broader than my own thoughts. Like today, we both went back four decades to the same day when, looking back, for her, it was the beginning of something miraculous. For me. Relief to be back in the bright lights after a stint in the Bush. Today, looking back in horror, defending the indefensible.


Breath


I have already been awake for an hour. It’s like my mind is a crowded house. The instant awake, a million thoughts pile in. The old podcast plugged in. The wisdom teacher reminding to make my mind my friend. Right effort is not pushy. It’s allowing things to be, to unfold on this path. Awareness begins to happen. Courage is not the absence of difficulties. Like waking, feeling uncomfortable, an opportunity to be quite alone while the world slumbers and dreams and morning brings a promise of something new. I realise in this dawning my mind has become a one track, a habit, furious with things I can’t change. I look forward to walking the nearby hill later, pushing against the gravity. Just me and my breath and the wildness replacing the fury.


Bliss


This morning, I imagined waking up with you next to the river bank, the early light curling its way into the tent. It’s the bliss of lying there knowing that the day is long. A gander around the French countryside awaits, sitting for hours in full view of river life and the contemplation of a tube ride through the rapids just below us. (I suppose we need some adrenalin.) Overhead we will spot the eagles and the airbuses and sit mesmerised in the flight path of the butterflies as they go about their business. The best part. To complete the unfinished books and the anticipation of food on an open fire sizzling in the cooling day, a bottle cracked open with the idea, because it’s such fun, we will repeat the same thing the very next day.


Camping La Champagne, Brivezacsometime in the future


Playground


A lone insurgent had been spotted in the hills just south of where we had planned to camp for a week. It was tough holding our horses. Then the green light – we travelled on the back of a truck, armed with tents, sleeping bags, cooking pots and bikes. Our destination Maleme Dam. Vast balancing rocks, our playground. I remember hot Cokes, food-caked pots, tiny, very annoying midges and Hitching a Ride playing the hits. I remember the baboons stealing our bread and the night hikes, embarrassingly singing Hold him down you Zulu warrior, hold him down you chief, chief, chief! I remember how we disturbed bats in the cave below the dam wall. What a fright we got. The week rushed by. The journey home, a distance of some thirty miles, leaving at midnight, shivering in the cold African April morning and sleeping roadside until first light.


Matopos, south of Bulawayo, 1970 (Matobo National Park)