The mind

I don’t usually just quote but I thought these words most wise. As we head towards another year, may I wish you everything of the best.

“Of all the many things that people value and care for in the world, the mind is the most precious. In fact, the mind is the foremost treasure in the whole world. So be sure to look after it. To realise the mind’s true nature is to realise Dharma. Understanding the mind is understanding Dharma. Once the mind is known then Dharma in its entirety is known. Arriving at the truth with one’s mind is a priceless possession that should not be overlooked. That says it all.” Joseph Goldstein quoting Ajhan Mun (26m32s)


Time

‘In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind.’ John O’Donohue

The other day the sky had dropped in, grey wet ice. The pavements had rained broken branches. Storm Bella had blown herself out, the carcass wind empty in the half light of the morning. The only cheer the lights on the tree, brightening the room. I had launched into the day and the rain came, the threshold swollen damp. Everywhere, bleak. Burned out days of a year that had scuppered everything. Then, today, the sun shone and the sky was bluer than ever, defiant; hopeful in the time of the corona and straw men promising the earth and delivering pitiful crumbs. On a recent walk, I had watched the waves fall on the shingled beach and had come to a realisation of their timelessness, a witness to another kind of permanence, not human.


© Rick Frame

On waking

I woke on a bad dream. The kind where you wake yourself up. As I dreamed it, I knew it was a dream and waking, falling asleep instantly, returning to it, drawn tight. The dark tunnel out is the toughest journey. The detail is irrelevant. Too complex, and there were crowds of dream stories, seemingly unrelated, I need a simplicity to convey the experience. Only the feeling – the feeling of inadequacy, a uselessness drained the blood of my skull. The usual suspects haunted, stalking the night mists, appearing from nowhere, chattering, vile. A flashback of a sudden fright, another dream place, waking me properly. The dream had moved on and, in the telling, there is a therapy.


© Rick Frame

Endings

Memory is the place where our vanished days secretly gather.’ John O’Donohue

I had woken. An end of the world dream drizzled. I hate the apocalypses of everything wildly hurtling towards a finite end and there is nothing I could do to stop it except to wake up. It was distress on everyone’s faces, frightened. I even caught myself hoarding food pointlessly. The world had closed in and had darkened. You know you are crazy when in that state you stop yourself in mid hug. An old friend had popped by as if nothing was going on. Odd really when life as we knew it was about to be snuffed out. The normal natural human response cut down in the time of a corona dream. Then somehow it must have moved on to other things, now lost forever to another country of dreams.


© Rick Frame

Encounter

A man sat on the pavement. Hard boiled, stiff and desperate, the cold wind wrapped around his bearded face. Talking to him, I wondered how old he was. His youth weather-beaten on the streets, sleeping on partly sheltered steps of shops near lit up Christmas trees and tinsel of festive cheer, for many all the creature comforts out of reach . Bagged with chestnut mushrooms and Belgian buns, glace cherries on a bed of icing, I walked home. If there had been some cronuts that would have been my first choice. My mind went back to the encounter. I couldn’t put him out of my mind. I wondered to myself how speaking with him briefly and handing him a fiver was simply a small gift to make myself feel much better this Christmas eve.

© Rick Frame


Tumble

The night woke me. Wind bluster mostly, the earth settling down on a sky travel of the northern light. I sit here in the dark, remembering other solstices. It has been strangely warm of late and memories of snow falls are photographed on distant calendars. Everything now seems different. Like the earth has taken a tumble, face down in the mud. Then I remembered. Suffering comes when you walk past, avoiding the eyes, the plea to be helped up.


© Rick Frame

Solstice

Today the tilt, the exact moment, that ever so slight shift, seconds closer to a northern summer; like the earth changing cheeks on a bench hard seat. Go back to the first day ever that the planet found its axis. Imagine that moment, the first solstice with no turning back: sun song blue, a new kind of embrace.


Published at the exact moment of the solstice in the United Kingdom, 10.02 UTC. Form changed on second thoughts.

© Rick Frame

Crazy

Worried suddenly, in this strangest of years, about something insanely crazy: a fear, unfounded I know, that this solstice the earth will simply forget to tilt back and we will be forever in a perpetual winter. It would make Shakespeare’s idea of a winter of discontent look like a carnival. In a crazy old year, such an idea is not beyond the bounds of the impossible. This much I know. The coming change is three days off and I am sure that this is needlessly fretting – yes, of course it is is – and that, as we embrace the turning point, – how sweet it will be – we can have some hope, some chance that there is the possibility of light. In the night sky now I can see the dying day. How it gets late early – it has just gone four – and that, before we know it, a warming sun will arrive with the woodpeckers and we can breathe with relief in the natural order of things.


© Rick Frame

Found

The sun had the time of day, our walkabout in a dry crispy morning. Our destination, the seafront. Today, the beach was sea water filled, the ocean sticking its tongue of high tide at a raised shingle shaped water line. You asked me to guess the temperature and we agreed it was between nine and ten degrees, half a summer temperature away from July days. Lone rangers trampled the promenade and badly dressed dogs pulled on leashes. How the other half live. Old friends sat sipping take-away coffees, almost forgetting that the time of the corona had come between them. One group of dears had clearly missed the memo on social distancing. In twenty years of living here I never tire of this coastline. With different light, a change of place and yet always familiar. On a recent walk I wondered (not so loud as I was by myself) how we used to fit in work, when we had other things to do. Like a daily constitutional and life’s admin. Of course, you will not be surprised to hear that then we had to fit in life around work and somehow life always lost out.

© Rick Frame


Frogs

Funny how memories jump out at you. Like the bull frogs on the road at night. They had little idea of the dangers from wayward travellers after dark. After an African downpour, it was particularly bad. Just this morning, in the bright sunlight, I had been staring at the glisten on the grass that was being flicked by the wind and, out of nowhere, the glow worms that warm Bulawayo night of over fifty years ago reappeared like ghosts. I was very much a jumpy teenager. It was the time of the moon landings and I was obsessed. (Nothing has changed there.) Somehow that night I did not expect so many and my weird imagination leapt to the wrong conclusions about alien invasions. It was the time that I had just finished a book about the end of the world – you know, the one with a nuclear winter – and how a deep despair had crept up on me and made my bones heavier. Like the idea of shoulders, weighed down. I had been too young then for such darkness and now, much, much older, I sit here regretting the death of frogs.

© Rick Frame