Fragility

I’m not sure what it was – the way the lilac flowers swayed in the soft Spring breeze as I looked out of the train window, or the remnants of varying emotions within – still lingering from a range of recent events – or perhaps it was just ‘that time of the month’…

But something made me stop today.  Something made me pause, and without any clear reason, I found myself feeling overcome with a strange sense of sadness (perhaps perpetuated by the piece of music which was on my MP3 player at the time)

We all know that nothing in life ever stays the same way forever and for the most part, we’re grateful for that.  Life could not be classed as life without change or growth… but all of a sudden, today, that acknowledgement of impermanence resonated within me with a sense of fright, as I realised just how fragile any given moment is.

All too often it takes a tragedy to remind us of this.  Through soaking eyes we utter those somewhat cliched words, “…this really puts things into perspective…” and vow to henceforth never let any of life’s daily grind detract us from that which is truly important – our family and friends, and our values.  We reflect upon this for a little while but despite best intents and purposes the sentiment can so quickly be lost – the telephone rings, we remember there’s somewhere we need to be or something we need to be doing, something irritates us, we see something amusing in the distance, or we go to sleep – there are so many minor occurrences that can so easily detract our minds back to things which in the grand scheme of things, really don’t matter.

…At this point, I recall an excerpt written by one of my favourite travel writers, Canadian Ryan Murdock, in his book ‘Vagabond Dreams’, a stunning book describing a both physical and personal journey through Central America which I wish everybody would read:…

“Nicaragua taught me that there’s a poverty of life in the West, a poverty of the spirit that mimics the drudgery and dull wasting away of monetary poverty.  Meaninglessness is our great disease.  Life’s spark is smothered by routine, by the grind.”

Herein lies the problem.  We simply have too many other things to think about in life – duties to perform… plans to be made… financial sustainance to achieve…. and other random, sporadic little things to think about – that we don’t always feel as though we have enough available time in which we can revel in what Murdock refers to as ‘life’s spark’ – those moments when we can focus upon fun, and love – all variants of it.  And central to that is appreciation – the underpinning knowledge that the special moments we share, with the people we care about – may not always be an option to us…

Life goes by so quickly these days.  We each live within a constant state of change where the various elements of a ‘typical day’ can change week upon week.  Our circumstances change, and people will come and go from our lives all the time.  It’s simply not feasible for us to forever live out ‘life’s spark‘ in the same way, yet we so often allow ourselves to be consumed by meaningless things that a year from now we will barely remember.  And perhaps that’s why the word ‘fragility’ was the one which so pertinently came to my mind today.  These days, at the ages we are, dwarfed by what sometimes seems to be an insurmountable pressure to ‘sort our lives out’- it is more important than ever to make the most of any opportunity we have for love, and fun (aka – the stuff which matters most, in the grand scheme of things).

But how does ‘making the most’ of these moments manifest itself?  How do we handle such ‘fragililty’? For something so largely important, it can be done in the smallest of ways…   Listening to every word.  Savouring every minute.  Focusing on the ‘here and now’ and not allowing our minds to wander towards external things that may be bothering us. Tight hugs…

…but above all, giving thanks that we ever had that opportunity in the first place – because it’s all so susceptible to change.

… Upon reflection, perhaps today’s strange surge of sorrow was down to the flowers swaying in the wind – looking at them, overcome by how beautiful they looked growing along the banks, knowing that several weeks ago they were not there, and knowing that in several weeks’ time they will have disappeared again, but being grateful for the pleasant imagery they provided today…

fragility

To See The Sea

I never really used to understand the big deal about the sea.

Metropolitan town born and bred, I never felt particularly enthusiastic when my parents would express their desire to one day live by the coast.  “But why?  The sea dun’t do anything”, I would debate.  I spent several Saturdays of my teenage years in our beach-hut at Tankerton and with the exception of those really hot, bright Summer days in which we could get the dinghy out I would normally just sit inside the hut shivering and cursing the cruel, cold air, just waiting to go home, to Watford.

And then I grew up, and started to pay a lot more attention to our landscape and the environment around us.  Moving down to East Kent – with all it’s cobbled streets, historic buildings, coarse beaches, deep forests, and valleys adorned with bright scarlet poppies or neon yellow canola – slotted in perfectly with this.  I began to realise how much I really appreciated the great outdoors, and just how beautiful it can be, and how even its imperfections can be a source of stimulation.

There’s something about this particular time of year which doesn’t fill me with too much inspiration.  It’s that awkward, gloomy little period between the fresh heated glow of Autumn and the festive warmth of the run up to Christmas, with it’s illuminating snowy skies.  Sandwiched in between those two somewhat cheerier bookends, we have November.  November, where daylight is a fleeting moment and the rain bounces monotonously off slippery pavements that shimmer orange underneath the street-lamps.  On a working day, it’s that image which seems to be my only experience of the outdoors.  Oh yeah – and if that’s not bad enough, it’s freezing cold too.

That’s why over the weekend it was nice to visit Seasalter, even if only for 5 minutes.  5 minutes just to pause and look out to an open sea, a sea which spans 70% of the Earth’s surface.  A sea which throughout thousands of years has remained resiliently lapping up to the shoreline – ebbing and flowing, but always there, always going.  This movement is profoundly peaceful to look at, and sitting there on the sea wall, breathing in the fresh salty air, I remembered how important it was to take that time every now and then just to relax and reflect – to just observe the world as it is, as it’s always been, and as it’s meant to be.  In those 5 minutes – everything else was irrelevant.

Meanwhile… There have been two recent additions to the site.  Firstly, another of my silly video things, this time from a walk around Blean Woods.  Secondly, an account of one of the more unfortunate episodes from last year’s trip to Egypt.

Happy reading.

Song of the Day:  Destroyer – English Music

Destroyer is the musical alias of Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Bejar, fellow frontman of indie-supergroup The New Pornographers.  Predominantly indie-rock, Destroyer’s music draws upon influences from a variety of decades and genres, mixes it all up, and puts its own unique stamp on it.  This is Winter Music.