Abiding in the cave of the heart

E3A07850-AFAF-4313-8EE1-CA7E899424AAThe full moon winter solstice passed in full-on Penzance Montol glory on Friday night. I felt quite exhilarated by the strong and wild atmosphere created by this ancient carnival here – revived over the past 7 years so I’ve heard mostly by the sterling efforts of one passionate local historian! When he talked last week about the quality of the world being turned upside down for a day in a spirit of mischievous laughing at the prevailing status quo, and the sheer exuberance of celebrating ‘out with the old, in with the new’, it brought to mind David Fleming’s writings about ‘the carnival of resistance’, about the importance of a community suspending all rules from time to time, in order to re-examine them, and not to take them as absolutes. He said that by briefly descending into chaos and anarchic hilarity, we can then step back into everyday life renewed and refreshed – that this is the deeper reason for and significance of true carnival. Montol seemed to contain these qualities, it felt deeper than simply a picturesque seasonal celebration. I’m really looking forward to the other festivals down here as the year goes round…

18AB891F-590D-40DE-AFF5-0F2EB34C122BFor now however I’m winding down, preparing for a week’s turning inwards and towards the elements in a semi-solitary here in the stone tent, framed by two Chapter Gatherings on Christmas- and New Year’s Eve. This feels quite perfect, especially as the week will now also include packing my boxes again and preparing to move out of my small cosy cave and into a slightly larger longterm rental flat in neighbouring Newlyn, on the 2nd January. Although I will miss the two horses especially, I can’t wait to sit gazing out of these windows looking directly out to the sea:

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I will also start working for the NHS again from January, for a day or two, and am really glad about that, and curious to see how this will turn out. And totally unexpectedly I’ve also just been asked to join the meditation teaching team at the class I’ve been going to regularly, and have said yes to that. But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to turning inwards here as I say goodbye to my first base down here, perfectly designed for hibernation dreaming. Here is a poem quoted by Sharon Blackie in her latest newsletter, which kind of sums up how I feel right now; note to self: find the novel that is an extract from…

‘Please bring strange things.

Please come bringing new things.

Let very old things come into your hands.

Let what you do not know come into your eyes.

Let desert sand harden your feet.

Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.

Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps

and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.

Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing

and your outbreath be the shining of ice.

May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.

May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.

May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.

May your soul be at home where there are no houses.

Walk carefully, well loved one,

walk mindfully, well loved one,

walk fearlessly, well loved one.

Return with us, return to us,

be always coming home.’

(Ursula LeGuin, from ‘Always coming home’)

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‘Far-ranging and lone-faring is the mind, incorporeal, and abiding in the cave of the heart.’ (Dhammapada)

I’m a bit nervous about descending into that ‘cave of my heart’ this winter, as my moods have been quite turbulent lately, like the winter storms. I’ve grappled with some bouts of loneliness and overwhelm, in the face of the big changes I’ve made, moving away from my familiar friends, surroundings and lifestyle in London. But these storms pass quite quickly, and are always followed by bouts of delight about this astonishingly beautiful place, and how easily things seem to be falling into a new rhythm and pattern down here, with relatively little effort. From the start it’s been a matter of riding the waves of the strong and exhilarating ocean energy I am surrounded by here.

I’m re-reading Virginia Woolf’s quite brilliant ‘To the Lighthouse’ currently, as well as working my way once again more systematically through Ian Siddons Heginworth’s ‘Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life’, which despite its clumsy title is a wisdom treasure of a book. It takes as its core the symbolism of the ancient Celtic Ogham Tree Calendar which starts with the cold, death and decay of November and works its way around the seasons and corresponding qualities. The quality of December being descent into the heart of darkness, to be transformed there by the returning light. It contains reflections as well as actual practical suggestions for working with these energies out in nature – some of which I will try out this week during the brief interludes between exuberant downpours of rain. And during the times of  darkness and rain, I will focus on the six element meditation practice – let’s see what emerges from that mix.

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‘It has been said that you do not go into a cave unless you are prepared to become the animal that sleeps in it.’ (Ben Weaver)

I’ve been quite frightened lately by the speed of ecological and political unravelling both in this country and more globally – it’s beginning to feel like we’ve truly entered the time described here by two prescient souls: 

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‘Things are going to slide in all directions. Won’t be nothing, nothing you can measure any more.’ (Leonard Cohen)

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The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats … It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.’ (D.H. Lawrence in ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 1928)

But strangely and reassuringly, in the face of that fear and sense of instability I’ve found myself feeling really grateful quite frequently, simply for still being warm, dry and safe, with enough food and water, a little car with fuel to take me to the places I need and want to go, and beauty all around me. Not knowing how much longer this fortunate state of affairs will last, but appreciating it all the more through being more conscious of that ever-present uncertainty; no longer taking any of that for granted. Trying to focus on those aspects of the situation I have some agency over – thinking globally and acting locally; finding contexts where I might be able to help contribute to preserving and protecting life and creativity. Life here feels quite stripped bare and much less cushioned than in the city with its many distractions, but in a good way – more enabling of the ideal of ‘elegant simplicity’. Speaking of which – it’s time now for that descent into the cave of the heart…

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The mindful who leave home do not delight in an abode ~ like wild geese quitting a lake, they abandon whatever security they have.’ (Dhammapada)

 

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Of Apple Orchards and the Moon

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‘Under the bright moon I walked round and round the lake All night long. Build a fire my friend, So it will crackle, I will show you something good – A big ball of snow.’ (Basho)

A couple of years ago when I embarked on my Ecotherapy Diploma with the Tariki Trust, a likeminded friend lent me her entire library of eco-books for inspiration, and I discovered Bill Plotkin’s version of the shamanic wheel of life, the ‘8 ecocentric stages of human development’ he described in my favourite of his books: ‘Nature and the human soul – cultivating wholeness and community in a fragmented world’: https://fractalenlightenment.com/28827/life/the-eight-soul-centriceco-centric-stages-of-human-development . Reading it I really resonated with the ‘Artisan in the Wild Orchard’ stage of late adulthood and still do – I don’t feel quite like an elderly crone yet, still too full of energy for that – but I do want to start slowing down and simplifying, to find my orchard, ie a context where I can put into practice and share the skills and gifts I’ve accumulated over the years freely with whoever’s interested or in need of something I’m able to help with. Where my ripe fruits can be harvested. 

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I was reminded of that metaphor when the conversation after yesterday evening’s full moon ritual turned to abundant apple orchards, and ripe fruit going to waste because we no longer know how to process and preserve it, or can’t be bothered to make the effort to – so much easier to grab a plastic tub of fruit from the ends of the earth, not considering the implications … well anyway, that’s where my mind went to; and then back to my own more metaphorical search for an orchard, a fertile context where I can spread my branches and share my fruits…and it looks more and more as if that might well be possible right here. I’m now in the process of re-entering the NHS to offer some paid as well as voluntary work – in a delightful little CAMHS clinic right by the sea, with a garden. This will happen alongside my independent therapeutic and supervision work, which is gradually beginning to increase and  take on an interesting and varied shape. And then there is our still experimental weekly morning meditation class, and possibly monthly full moon evenings, which may lead to longer day- or weekend workshops and retreats, over time. A rhythm and momentum is building, and I feel moved by the warmth and openness of the people I’m connecting with down here. So on my wanderings I will from now on also survey the lay of the land for possibilities for the eventual building of a communal base … using as a guide that image of an apple orchard bathed in moonlight, reflected in that vast, wild sea…

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In the meantime on a more down to earth level, I’ve been quite fascinated by the raw energy of ‘Extinction Rebellion’, and salute them for what they are doing, shaking things up and trying to instil a sense of urgency in the powers that be, about the global political changes and measures needed right now, to prevent our sliding into ecological collapse. Unfortunately I’m also deeply pessimistic about it working – I fear this Movement might go the way of ‘Occupy’ – run out of steam eventually, faced with a mixture of disinterest, ridicule and repression from the Establishment. I hope I’m wrong, would love to be wrong on this one. I’m going to listen to the Founder of the Transition Movement Rob Hopkins’ latest thoughts on ‘Making Britain imaginative again’ tomorrow evening – he’s speaking at a local volunteering event, about the crucial task of strengthening our imagination in the face of what we are currently living through. I still think that truly and wholeheartedly ‘thinking globally and acting locally’ must surely be the key to finding a constructive way forward, for our species and all that lives…

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On which note I want to make one final recommendation for you all to watch David Attenborough’s very thought provoking new series ‘Dynasties’ if you haven’t already. He and his team are this time taking the controversial approach of following particular animal groups and families and getting to know them over a whole year. Which gets in my view a bit soppy and anthropomorphic at times – for example in the annoying naming of a truly fierce female lion as ‘Charm’…but both episodes so far also really grappled with the question as to whether as humans we should simply be observing nature happening in front of us, or whether at times we need to take a more participatory approach – like when the film makers built a ramp for some penguins stranded in a crevice with their chicks, and when they called out the vets to a poisoned lion cub. I think it’s only by slowly healing this tragic rift and accepting once again that we are fully part of nature and in this together with all other species, that we can genuinely learn to become less destructive of our habitat – because like these film makers in tears, we will be moved to act wisely and compassionately, in whatever situation we find ourselves in. Which incidentally is something also most brilliantly explored in Andy Goldsworthy’s new movie ‘Leaning into the wind’, where he keeps literally immersing himself in and interpenetrating with nature, becoming part of it, not separate from it. It’s the most inspiring film I’ve seen for ages – okay, so that’s one more recommendation for you. That will do for today – the horses are hungry for their vegetable scraps!

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‘Within the still waters of the heart Dwells the moon, The lonely waves ~ brightness everywhere.’ (Dogen)

 

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‘May I dance in that freedom of change…’

 

That’s a line from the dedication prayer I conclude my meditation with each morning – the line that stands out to me just now.

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So my second month down here has come and gone, and at a slightly disgruntled moment earlier today I was thinking ‘yes and not much to show for it’. Which led to an interesting reflection – as I was grumpily stomping along in a sandstorm on Marazion Beach, salt and sand in every orifice – about why I feel I need to have something to show for myself and my time here; and what exactly, and to who? Maybe I was mostly talking to myself – to the part of me sort of trying to recreate my London life of roughly three days a week paid therapeutic work, to pay the bills … but over this past week I’ve allowed myself to start thinking: well, what if that’s just not going to happen down here; and do I even really want to recreate my London life here – wasn’t the whole point of coming down here to do something completely different, to hang more loose from that kind of regular, conventional pattern of life? To take more of a risk towards really putting my spiritual practice at the centre of my life, and to see what happens when I genuinely do that? To trust that it will turn out alright, that something new and as yet unknown will arise from that?

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So yes, this was a rockier and grittier month than the first, with me keeping on painfully bumping against my fears and limitations in all areas. But it all feels fruitful and necessary; something I have to go through and can’t bypass, no shortcuts…so even during my most challenging moments I feel simultaneously quite exhilarated that I’ve really done it, that I’ve had the courage to take myself to the edge of this land, to something brand-new and as yet unknown and unformed. I’m realising that my scrambling and rushing to sort out my working week, as well as being related to my neurotic worry about money, is at least partly also to do with wanting a more solid context, to feel I belong somewhere specific and am contributing something of value. With wanting to be less of a lone drifter in this overwhelmingly wild and beautiful landscape. Walking along the coastal path I feel alternately or even sometimes simultaneously joyfully free and painfully lonely – the feelings as huge as the landscape and moving with it and spilling over like the waves, ebbing and flooding with the tides, waxing and waning like the moon. I’ve planted a winter garden, wanting to put down roots, to stay put. Thinking of my grandmother, so firmly rooted, especially in her vegetable garden. The two horses in the field next door have firmly attached themselves to me and I love them. They remind me of my grandfather who still ploughed the field with two horses I also loved and was a bit scared of, as a child. I’ve ended up in a landscape of vineyards and cabbage fields here interestingly, very similar to that of southern Germany, except for that vast sea so close by and astonishing. 

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I bought a fire pit and want to host a full moon puja here next month, for the local buddhists. I’ve been humbled and impressed by the depth and commitment to spiritual practice I’ve encountered here so far in several buddhists from other sanghas, some of which I had never heard of before. I am also becoming aware of a hunger for clear and coherent spiritual guidance of many others. The classes I’ve visited so far were all heartfelt and moving, but didn’t offer much of a guiding map to a newcomer. So maybe that’s where we can contribute something with our specific, systematic approach to begin with, and see where it leads? We have started a morning meditation drop in class at a local alternative gallery, so let’s see what emerges there. It feels good to start to contribute something, and to host a meaningful event later this month.

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So alongside my physical and spiritual wanderings and my search for work, I’ve started learning about the significance of the stones and waters, air and light round here, and their effects on local art and culture. The hard and resilient quality of granite, the veins of metals and minerals in it from the earth’s core, and the softer, beautiful serpentine and soapstone prevalent on the Lizard Peninsula. White China clay quarries inland, standing stones, holy wells…so much to learn, a big winter project, to read about as well as visit specific places, inland as well as around the coast; to connect with the elemental energies and old stories, and relate them to my practice. Mining and underground passages seem to have particularly captured my imagination right now, the extraction of precious metals from stone. Granite cracking and molten lava from the earth’s core filling the cracks – the as yet untapped potential of the minerals needed for our digital phones and gadgets now possibly being mined by the chinese who have reopened South Crofty surface mine, near the deprived town of Camborne. Stones to build a house with, the earth, grounding – maybe that’s the solid, sheltering element to start with, as we move into winter. But I also want to go sea kayaking, learn to ride a horse, make photo collages, assemble stones and found objects and combine them with words. I don’t yet quite know where to start; too many impressions and ideas and possibilities, all in a restless jumble – ‘may I dance in that freedom of change’.

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‘Where can it be found again, an elsewhere world, beyond maps and atlases, where all is woven into and of itself, like a nest of crosshatched grass blades?’ (Seamus Heaney)

 

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‘The Poetics of Space’ revisited

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‘One must live to build one’s house, and not build one’s house to live in’

During this last month of restless moving and gradually beginning to settle into my new life space here, I’ve been re-reading this wondrous french phenomology book, exploring the nature and qualities of different spaces. I find the style a bit ponderous and opinionated in places, but completely respect what I think the author Gaston Bachelard was trying to draw our attention to, way back in 1969 when his book was first published: the importance of dreaming, of allowing images to arise in the mind and reveal their layers of meaning naturally, without the rational mind interfering with its analytic dissecting – which has its place but can also be reductive and undermining of a deeper, more embodied, poetic and mythical experiencing of life and the world.

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‘We are sensitive inhabitants of the forests of ourselves.’

The feel of sand and sea water on bare feet, the smell and sound of the sea when walking along the beach, the wide and bright horizon, children shrieking with joy as they leap into the waves, or entirely absorbed in building sandcastles – on my walks I can feel all this expanding my whole being, allowing my mind to slowly unfold from its cramped and  shuttered city confinement, and recall that childlike simple communing with the elements, which makes the skin tingle and the heart open and resonate. ‘Whatever else there is, there’s this as well’, as a poet friend of mine memorably put it.

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‘Space is inside a tree like honey in a hive’

Bachelard talks about immensity experienced through a contemplative attitude – inner immensity which might be in paradoxical relation to external space – a monk or nun can feel this immensity in their small cave or monastic cell, for example; inner space expanding in meditation. He thinks our human fascination with large things emerging from small ones might be related to the vastness of our thoughts and dreams, apparently emerging from the small, vulnerable form of our bodies. He talks of houses as warm, inhabited, lived in intimacy; of the body as a house, and the breath as an even more subtle house to live inside. Of lights in windows like eyes shining out, waiting and longing.

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He talks of shells as the most ancient ‘houses’ of their maximum simplicity, of their protective hardness and shape built up from the inside by a soft being moving around; of the mystery of such a thing being possible. He notes the peace and calm of roundness, which is the shape of the universe and its orbits, and of a nesting bird, ‘almost completely spherical’, life guarded on every side, enclosed in a live ball, life being round. Curves inviting us to stay and find our place within them. While corners offer a place to either hide or meet in; of the magic rhythm of concealing and revealing, opening and closing. A Buddhist friend who built a forest garden in neighbouring Devon talked about this same theme when describing his design – how winding paths concealing and then revealing new and unexpected spaces make a place feel much bigger than it actually is in terms of measurement.

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And most importantly, towards the end of the book Bachelard argues that we give value to something by paying it attention, by caring about it – that attention is a magnifying glass, enlarging the value of what is being paid attention to – I love that. All of the above makes so much sense enveloped in this vast, breathtakingly beautiful landscape right on the edge between the land and sea, so fragile yet so powerful in its impact on my whole being when sitting, standing, walking or indeed swimming in it.  The impact is not always comfortable at all – I find myself alternately held and overwhelmed by the outer immensity of the land and sea and its dramatic weathers here, mirroring my inner changeable weather: deep joy and connectedness alternating with bouts of intense existential fear and loneliness. More fully exposed to the elements in all their aspects, rather than cocooned by the comforting city lights. Which is what I wanted – be careful what you wish for.

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‘Deserts: mountains in shreds’

So my main practice right now is to pay full attention to all of this awe and wonder, and learn to value it more and more, and find ways of sharing this practice in whichever way I can think of. Because we want to protect and preserve and where necessary repair what we truly value – and we so urgently need to do just that, as much as we can. Not having much money to spend will help with that I think – with rediscovering what I overheard a local call ‘the simple pleasures’ the other day – of simply being still or moving about – slowly and on foot as much as possible – in all this freely given natural splendour.

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*All quotes from ‘The Poetics of Space’ by Gaston Bachelard*

 

 

 

 

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‘Sustained by perplexity’ – some snippets from the first 12 days out west

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Friday 3rd August

That’s one of the lines in the text we are going to contemplate on our Buddhist weekend later this month, and feels very apt for today! I picked up my little sea-blue Chevrolet this morning, and am now in the middle of learning the ropes of the life of a car driver. Did a large Sainsbury’s shop, picked up a SATNAV in Argos, filled up the tank and headed where I thought was the top of Penzance town and my chosen car park for the afternoon, but took a wrong turning and ended up on a tiny B-road to St. Ives instead. As it’s past lunchtime and I’m quite hungry, I stopped at the nearest tea shop where I’m sitting now, the ‘Green Pig’ which also rents out one tiny holiday cottage, and has a garden with beautiful views over St. Michael’s Mount. So just as well I haven’t as yet managed to set up that SATNAV and am instead naturally sustained by the perplexity of getting a bit lost. Sad phonecall with my father from there to wish him happy birthday, but of course he’s not happy, but as ever entirely trapped in misery with my mother, with no prospect of that changing, or anything anyone can do to help, at this stage … such a harsh reality to accept; and uncomfortable to feel the contrast of the relative freedom and spontaneity of my life here, the absence of family chains, out of choice – hopefully not entirely selfish choice; wanting to share any fruits freely.

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Sunday 5th August

I’ve been here a whole week now, and gradually the sheer excitement and edge of anxiety about finally having arrived and left London behind is wearing off, and making way for a quieter joy – a sense of this landing place feeling entirely right at this particular point in time. Even though the handy free WiFi connection from next door has just failed, and mine isn’t being installed until much later this month – maybe that too is as it should be – digital detox. Living alone for the first time in 15 years feels very strange; and I worry about making ends meet of course, as I’m spending relatively large sums of my savings on a car and necessary household items like chairs to sit on … but I’m fairly optimistic that it will all work out fine. It felt difficult to focus, but also quite satisfying and reassuring to draft a professional journal article over these past two days – I haven’t burnt all my bridges but am just trying to find a new vantage point. It’s disconcerting but also interesting not to know yet what I’m doing, where everything is and how anything works down here, without ‘irritable reaching for answers’; living in the questions for a while, allowing things to unfold in their own time.

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Wednesday 8th August

A bit dozy today after my first long car journey over the last two days, to visit two Buddhist friends in the neighbouring county of Devon. One of them lives with her partner in a static caravan on a communal farm, and we picked salad leaves together and shared their vision for a couple of days – very stimulating for me, as I’m trying to head in a similar direction…and now I’m preparing for my first overnight visitor, another very good and longstanding buddhist friend.

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Friday 10th August

It was lovely to spend a whole evening and day with my friend and host her here – it made the stone tent feel even more like home, and felt quite easy and spacious, which bodes well for future visitors (: After breakfast we zoomed about down tiny lanes in the sea-blue car, looking at ancient stone circles, burial chambers and the remains of an Iron Age village, as well as walking down to Lamorna Cove for an invigorating swim. I’m gradually getting my bearings in the car now, and it felt very grounding to begin to connect with the ancient roots of human habitation of this land, through the standing stones, magnificent granite stone beings. I’m about to set off on my second even longer drive this morning, up to a week-long meditation retreat in Herefordshire. The timing for this feels just right; really looking forward to a week’s turning inwards, allowing the turbulence of the move and change to subside.

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Bigger on the inside

‘To become of a place is to trade endless possibility for something specific’ (Martin Shaw)

There is a beautiful and profound calligraphy practice in Zen Buddhism, of breathing in, and then on the out-breath drawing an enso – a circle which stands for life, for the moon, for the fullness of emptiness, for infinite space. Sometimes the practitioner puts a dot in the middle standing for the fluid self, the unique small person emerging out of and finding their unique place and stance in that vast space for a little while, before flowing back into the elements. And often the circle has a small gap, it’s open, not closed. Everything we need to know is contained in that image, and practice. The drop in the ocean, and the ocean in the drop.

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On a vision quest we find your power place, create a large circle out of stones and stay in it for three days and four nights, communing with the land and its living beings in that particular place; receptive to what may emerge from that. Animals, birds and insects can sense the circumference of our circle, hesitate and seem to make a decision whether or not to enter. If we are fully engaged and immersed in the ritual, a magical conversation unfolds, where the edges between inside and outside blur and mingle. We viscerally experience life living through us, like a flowing river. All we need to do is keep the flow clear of obstacles – to loosen our self-centred grip.

David Fleming observed that small is beautiful because the smaller the circle, the longer is the circumference in relation to the area enclosed – and it’s along the edges and on the margins of things that creativity truly happens, and flows into the centre.

 I’m about to move from a large city to a small, marginal town at the edge of the sea with a wide horizon; for all the reasons above. Roots in the sky.

I was born by a large celtic lake, I rode an imaginary horse for years, and my first conscious childhood home place was what I thought of as ‘my grandmother’s forest’. She talked to the deer there, and took my brother and me deep into the woods with our skin and hair carefully covered as protection from the wild bees, to gather wild berries. She made the most delicious honey from the growing tips of pine trees each Spring, until she stopped one year because of the acid rain, explaining that the trees needed to be left in peace now, to heal. I only fully realised the depth of her simple wisdom and compassion as an adult, and now as I too grow older, I’m proudly following in her footsteps. I feel deeply grateful for her exemplification, for my rootedness in that forest, and in my wild child imagination. 

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I wandered restlessly for many years as a young adult and then again later; frequently getting lost in blind alleys, looking for my tribe. I learnt many valuable lessons along the way. I eventually found a multicultural home in London, an emotional home in Psychoanalysis, then a spiritual home in Buddhism. Proud of and grateful to my ancient human ancestors for revealing such intricate, magnificent methods and paths. Grandfathers joining my grandmother in a wondrous journey to the interior which will continue, possibly over several lifetimes. My work with children connecting me to future generations.

Now the time has come to join a tiny band of likeminded friends, and share the fruits of what I have learnt so far in this one lifetime in a slower, deeper, less fragmented, more coherent way, and in more direct connection with beyond-human wild nature and the elements. Whatever that will look like; allowing the details to emerge organically – to offer what I can and do what is needed, in the specific new place and situation I will find myself in. Emulating my grandmother, quietly exemplifying everyday wisdom and compassion as fully as I can, however imperfectly.

I’m about to move from a large city to a small, marginal town at the edge of the sea with a wide horizon; for all the reasons above. Watch this space.

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One more year in the city 12: July

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I’m writing this on the train back from Penzance, where I have just picked up the keys to the little stone tent and spent one preliminary night in my new home for these next six months. All was as beautiful and even magical as I remembered, in a soft misty summer rain interspersed with hot flashes of sun. I started making friends with my immediate neighbour, the small white horse in the field to my right – I think we’re going to get along just fine, especially if I save plenty of apples for it  – and a little black cat looked like it might want to join the menagerie. 

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My human neighbours on the other hand turn out to be on the very private end of the spectrum, with my Landlords definitely not wanting any direct interaction (as yet, anyway), which feels slightly odd for these parts where the norm seems so much the opposite: yesterday evening I got hopelessly lost trying to walk to my new abode from town, and ended up being offered a lift to my new doorstep by a passing Tesco Delivery driver who ‘had nothing else to do for the next half hour anyway’, and then refused to accept any money for his trouble.

So yes, I picked up my keys, had an informal, connecting pre-meeting with my new buddhist chapter of 3 in my friend’s courtyard garden at the top of Penzance Town, got lost on the way ‘home’ from there, and then spent quite a fretful evening alternately excited and really anxious, as I measured and inspected everything in detail. The little horse really helped, it kept coming up to the fence to check how it was all going, and seemed most curious about my activities out there on the sundeck. I rebuilt the stone bench and had dinner out there – thoughtfully provided home- made by one of my chapter friends, so I didn’t even have to buy a Take Away! I didn’t sleep much but heard the rain and saw stars through all the windows and felt just right there, in my tiny little house. This morning I found wild strawberries in the garden to garnish my porridge with, and later got chatting with the local village shopkeeper. Alas, there was no fresh produce on offer at all, and the shopkeeper admitted with disarming honesty that ‘everything in here is unhealthy’. She pointed me in the direction of the nearest Co-op and Lidl down by the seashore instead; a 20 minute stroll down ‘Love Lane’, past the boating pond (at the shores of which a little tent village of homeless people seemed to be forming, interestingly).

The setting of these two uninspiring but no doubt occasionally useful supermarkets in ‘Wherry Town’ proved most spectacular. As I lay on the pebbly beach there in the sun for a while, watching a heron fishing off a rock, I witnessed several long chats on the nearby bench between locals and passing tourists, about the beauty and delights of that exact spot and the surrounding area. It looked to me as if the lovely little town of Newlyn with its Modern Art Gallery and Mousehole beyond it were only another stroll away. So here is interesting local walk No 1 to take future visitors on; it doesn’t even require a car, as there’s the option of the bus back almost to my doorstep, in case of weariness (:

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So now back for just eleven more days of packing, cleaning, gardening and goodbyes.  There may just be one more post from London before I go (: With the keys in my pocket it feels completely real now, and just right, exactly as it is unfolding, this gradual experiment of turning more explicitly towards ‘elegant simplicity’, and wild nature.

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