How (if you’re me!) to keep measured and sane amid the chaos.
For starters, two reminders from a Buddhist meditation handbook:
‘…one shouldn’t have a great deal of desire… one must be content, which means whatever one has is fine and right.’ ‘Whatever one has is fine and right.’ (My italics.)
‘The place where we stay should be free from a lot of activity and a large number of people… (we should reduce) our involvement in too many activities.’ Now there’s a challenge.
Then there’s something I’ve loved since childhood – watching cricket. I enjoyed England’s decisive and exuberant victory over Pakistan in the second test match that ended yesterday. Always good to head out to Lords or the Oval, or stand on the boundary at Cranham cricket club … (A friend reminds me of the joke – ‘God gave cricket to the English so that they should have some sort of idea of eternity ‘ – that was certainly true of the first test match. I was there.)
And moving out beyond the cricket field – out further into the wild, and the wilderness, into the countryside, to the coast, to the mountains:
(‘What would the world be, once bereft /Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left…’)
walk (or run) in the meadows and beech woods
head off down to Cornwall and walk around Penwith from St Ives, via Zennor and Land’s End and Porthcurno, to Penzance (carrying a tent and heavy rucksack in the hot sun a small downside, likewise the heat exhaustion!)
puzzle over the wild flowers (betony abundant in Cornwall – a small sense of triumph identifying it!)
listen or watch, or maybe both…
– two buzzards wheeling above me on the coast path near Treryn Dinas just east of Porthcurno, piping much of the time, occasionally they come together and there’s a scurry of wings, and they resume their circling. The following morning, 7.30, I’ve struck camp, and I’m on my way, light rain, grey out to sea, and they’re back there, ahead of me, still slowly circling
– the owl which I disturbed in the woods later that morning – it took off maybe only two or three feet away from me, a vast and silent presence, and a powerful absence, disappearing into the light at the end of the green tunnel behind me
– the sound of a soprano, yes, a soprano, from the Britten opera being performed at the Minack theatre a mile away, it was 9pm, and I was tucked away in my tent, trying to sleep…
– a yellow snail (a ‘white-lipped banded snail’), and a red-winged fly – the small and surprising things, which puzzle, and take the mind down from the high and inflated places to the simple and beautiful
– and back in the Cotswolds, a lesser spotted woodpecker now a regular visitor to the bird feeder and the birdbath in the garden, and the goldfinches
– and the long warm summer evenings, the stillness, and the small party which headed out onto the common at midnight to look for glow-worms
There is hope for the world yet.