I’ve spent the past two days feeling the biggest love. Now I’ll try to share it.
The love feeling is so large that I don’t know where to start to spread it. Like mulch. So, obviously, I will start at the end.
Me and Lucille (by now you know that she is my Grand Old Lady of The Road) crested the rise just near Grootbos, but even closer to midnight.
The half-moon that had blessed the blissed at Greenpop’s Reforest Fest at Platbos now hung over Walker Bay before me. The supreme blackness and my headlight beam of just seconds before was replaced by a shimmering silver path on the sea. It was a sight that simply served to send my spirits soaring even higher, if that were possible.
It was. I stopped Lucille. I looked. My heart sang. It sang of one of the most beautiful days of my life. I expelled a frighteningly discordant and quite primal whoop, not a thing of beauty at all but one that yelled of a man set free of the chains of ordinariness. I was alone. And it was mine. I was heading home to my bed.
I left my heart somewhere among the good and happy and carefree people who had planted three thousand trees on the edge of Africa’s southernmost indigenous forest. And my sole remained in the rich and reddy-brown earth which would help those trees grow. I have never had a problem distancing myself from a crowd. But I was already missing the three hundred-odd and somewhat odd people who had gathered for “Friends Fest”, truly a union of friends who had never really been strangers but were now forever unified in the spirit of nursing the planet. And their own souls. And those of each and all of us.
“When the white eagle of the North is flying overhead The browns, reds and golds of autumn lie in the gutter, dead. Remember then, that summer birds with wings of fire flaying Came to witness spring’s new hope, born of leaves decaying. Just as new life will come from death, love will come at leisure. Love of love, love of life and giving without measure Gives in return a wonderous yearning of a promise almost seen. Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream.”
Yes, the Moody Blues, taking me right back to my teenagehood. Thanks to Tim O’Hagan for the wondrous reminder…
“The White Eagle”, by Fred Hatman (Van Brakel’s Stoor, 2013)
I have just made a long-distance phone call to a person very dear to me, somebody who has known me as a child and adult. Somebody who is trying to pick herself up off the floor, after being flung there by life.
She tried to rise again on her own, without telling anyone of her distress or of her mess. Until she just had to reach out for love and support. Which duly came. In many forms and from many sources and with great abundance. She is not alone. And she is not alone in this. And she was not alone in getting it wrong. She is getting help. And she will be fine.
I never thought I would tell her this but, when we spoke this morning, I told her of the six weeks I spent in my London flat many years ago, six weeks spent almost entirely in bed. Unable to get up. Unable to rise again. Unable to ask for help. Until I did. I embraced change. And the learning. Learning to be kind to oneself. Learning to be one’s self.
Learning that our perception of the expectation of others is not our truth. Learning to be true to our self. To be ourselves. To be nobody else but ourself. To honour our own needs, our own wishes, our own dreams. Our own bodies. Our own minds. Our love for self. I am still learning this.
I read somewhere recently that “no matter what value we put on ourselves, there ain’t nobody else who is going to come along and raise that amount”… or words to that effect. We are all worth far more than the value we dare put on ourselves, our lives, our love.
When I was young, my father would often pack us all into the Ford Cortina (with round rear lights and tailfins) on a Sunday. And we would head for the ocean. Nobody had picked up on my astigmatism then and I would lie like a descaled and reddened crocodile in rock pools, with my begoggled eyes slightly submerged and, sight magnified by the refraction of sunlight on the water’s surface, watch the tiny fish flit about and the crabs beady-eye me from their shadowed nooks. Boy in a bubble. I wear glasses now. But no roadtrip in Lucille is complete without a snuffle around South Africa’s magnificent coastline. To submerge myself in the sights and sounds and sand and salt. And, while seagulls skirl overhead, to lie meditatively in rock pools. On my back. Like a seal. And drift off… and be washed away. And washed.
Children and I are on the same wavelength. I adore them. They tend to love my company. We play. The child is strong within me. None more so than an adorable pair who are the children of a friend.
These girls, my “Gargoyles”, and I went to Platbos Forest the other day so that I could take some photographs of them for a project I’m working on. I want to produce a set of three images for a conceptual artwork which might illustrate the spiritual path of children.
R & S have walked a very difficult path without their father. I imagine it has been both heartbreaking and strange. And the strangeness was there when we entered Platbos Forest for the photo-shoot.
My “Out of The Hat” column, first published in Stanford River Talk, the quite extraordinary little local newspaper that serves (and I mean serves) my village – April, 2013.
I STEP out of the shower I share with large frogs, even bigger spiders, any size and number of exquisitely hand-painted moths and and am immediately enveloped by the heat once more.
Sipping the dark, bitter remnants of last night’s sweet, black tea, I feel the mountain-dew breeze diffusing through the fly-defying mesh of the screen door and on to my chest, prickling my still-damp skin with it’s early autumn cool-creep.
The vista from my front door is the same, as always. In that is is constantly changing. The aimlessly scudding clouds, the groping, gripping mist and the love of the light all conspire to create new mountain edges, resketching a familiar landscape in my mind. Doves clatter inconsiderately through the leaves into the tree, just outside my wonky gate, where they have chicks to feed.