I’d heard there was a lost settlement round the headland, a couple of miles south of the coastal village where I live. Nearby stands a now, rather isolated, Norman church commanding a magnificent view of the estuary.
Curious, I ventured past the World War II look out, picking my way over the smooth washed pebbles. And there it was. Large stones protruding from the base of the sand dunes, uncovered during a small-scale archaeological investigation of this long deserted medieval hamlet.
Hard now to imagine that here, between the steep rise of the railway embankment and the tidal waters of the Three Rivers Bay, a community once bustled about its business.
It got me thinking how little we really know of what has gone before and how little that actually matters.
As we strive, like worker ants to get our jobs done or make a mark on the world, or simply pay our bills and live to fight another day, out of our narrow line of sight, sea levels rise, tectonic plates shift imperceptibly, civilisations decline and fall and all these are like the sighs of a vast sea dragon of ancient times.
And yet we fall, again and again for the illusion that something about our little lives is terribly important, that some crucial piece that will give it all meaning is eluding us. So we strive and fret and struggle for only fleeting moments of peace and joy. All the while, wondering, wondering, is this it?
So simple we miss it. So ordinary we think there must be something more.
What is it?
There is no-thing to get nor leave behind for all that we are, all that we do, all that we make in the world of form will eventually turn to dust. Why be so serious? It’s okay to tread more lightly, take more pleasure in what you do and who you’re with, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Before and behind, past and future are just the in breath and the out breath of a vast awareness that cares little what we eat for breakfast, whether we enjoy or endure, wake up or remain asleep, for this vast awareness rises and falls with the grace of a magician’s dove emerging from the nothingness of a black hat only to disappear and re-emerge as the mischievous white rabbit.
The remaining stones buried in the sand dunes seem to tell a story of a lost community, the march of time but actually the story is much older. A story of dust turned into rocks and hands and buildings and families and work and love and sorrow and returning slowly to rocks and sand and one day dust again as the waters rise.
A story of beginnings and endings and the beautiful dance of Life taking form and dissolving only to take form again.
And to get even a glimpse of the majestic movements of this vast rising and falling, and our tiny yet infinite part of it, brings grace and ease and a deep sense of awe at the beauty and mystery of Life here, now.
Find out more about the archaeological dig
Photo © Juliet Fay
St Ishmael, Carmarthenshire Wales, UK
23 February 2018
I’d love to hear your reflections on this piece.
Winter walks reveal all kinds of delights in the absence of the lush summer foliage. Like lichen and dormant seed heads. These seasonal ornaments invite us to remember the sweetness of life right here, right now. In our quest for peace or deeper understanding we can miss what’s right in front of us.
Doing the housework, paying bills, preparing for tomorrow’s activities. Folding clothes, creating slides, feeding animals, printing papers, checking news-feeds, reading reports, listening to the radio, cleaning work surfaces, running errands, recycling, posting parcels, chopping, hauling loads, cooking, writing, reading, listening, walking, running, beach combing, taking photos, driving, swimming, sitting, resting, napping, calculating, forecasting, estimating, drawing, painting, knitting, singing, chatting, debating, gaming, sharing laughter, music, TV, film, jokes, watching nature, weather, clouds, faces of those you love and complete strangers, breathing in and out.
There are a million ways to experience each moment and each remains only a possibility until it happens. A figment of the imagination until it is brought into form. And once passed it resides only in the shadowland of memory.
There is no storehouse of experience. That too is illusory.
We can not make deposits and withdrawals in some vast memory bank that will create a better now. For now is unattached to past and future. It exists independent of all else and yet intimately connected with everything else that ever has or will come into form. A paradox we do not need to understand.
And that is the joy of it. Each moment contains infinite possibility. No matter what the experience of the moment before; the next one could be anything. How can we possibly know what is coming next? How can we make sense of any of it?
We simply don’t seem to be equipped to fully grasp the miraculous, mysteriousness of this thing called Life.
So call off the search.
And rest, as far as you can, in the extraordinary miracle of being alive to each ordinary moment and see how those moments begin to transform into something rich and sweet.
Something that has nothing to do with the activity we are engaged in and everything to do with the awareness we rest in while experiencing those activities.
Photo © Juliet Fay
Penamaen Woods, Gower Peninsular, Wales, UK
9 February 2018
I’d love to hear your reflections on this piece.
I went to look at contemporary art in a gallery recently. It wasn’t what I’d planned. I was heading to look at a collection from the nineteenth century but at the last minute found myself outside a modern art gallery and so, on a whim, I changed my plan and headed in despite a niggling feeling.
Why the reluctance?
I have an idea I just don’t ‘get’ modern art. Rather than come right out and admit that, in the past, I would have said it is pretentious, pointless or some other sweeping generalisation. But I thought I would give it a go.
Once in front of a multi-media exhibition I found myself examining the labels on each piece. Words. I like words. I was looking for a way in, to understand the point of the piece.
To my surprise I found myself amused and drawn by several pieces
Next up, a photographer’s work. Framed black and white print after framed black and white print with no captions. What! No descriptions. I read the bio of the artist and once I realised there were no captions, I relaxed and started to gaze at the prints. They were arresting and showed a variety of subjects. Instead of trying to work out where they were I found myself just enjoying the atmosphere and the feeling I got from the prints. I was captivated.
It strikes me it’s very easy to get all opinionated about life as it comes through us
To have all kinds of rules and stories about how things should be, in our heads and in our lives. This tends to leave us with a precarious relationship to what ‘is’ because most of what shows up falls into the ‘not okay’ category. And what I realised from my foray into contemporary art is you miss so much when you stick to randomly created ideas (calcified into beliefs) about what things are or are not, should or should not be.
‘Like’ or ‘dislike’ are totally arbitrary and subject to change
And more often than not our opinions and beliefs come from thoughts about the past rather than what is in front of us.
We may like the smell of coffee because we associate it with all sorts of ‘nice’ things. We may dislike wet weather because in the past we have felt down on a grey day. The sentiment is not really about the coffee or the rain it’s about what stories we hold about them.
And those can change at any time….. Who knows what you currently dislike or think is impossible that you could see differently, at any moment?
I’d love to hear what comes up for you on reading this article. Please add any comments, questions, reflections or insights below.