Day 11: Adventure, Experimentation, and a Sobering Experience

It’s Saturday.

I love Saturdays.

They’re all about new experiences, adventure, and being together.

Today we drove to a nearby old railway track. There are hundreds of them around here, all connecting and an incredible resource for exercise. Bikes hurtle up and down them, some carrying very serious-looking people in up-to-the-minute lurid lycra, some carrying mothers, fathers and their little ones, still wobbling a bit. And walkers use them, some to exercise their pets, and some to run off the week’s energies with their family – like us.

I have observed that no matter where you are, boys will find sticks. I can’t speak for girls, since it’s an awfully long time since I was a little one (though I know I climbed trees), and I am surrounded by five young boys these days. And they always find sticks. And the sticks become all forms of weapon. Mostly, we have swordfighting and archery going on. But they are walking sticks too, and methods for taking out your brother’s eye if you’re not keeping your own on the ball… Gulp.

We found a viaduct. Incredible. Breathtaking actually. Awe-inspiringly high, with views that defied description. The children hurtled over it, with barely a sideways glance at the view, and discovered the footpaths leading under the arches, and paused to watch the lady leading her horse over the top, remount and ride away. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two signs attached to the railings. The first read “Cyclists dismount”. I looked up at a group of people cycling over it and smiled to myself.

But the second read: “Do you need someone to talk to?” and my stomach lurched as I realised it was aimed at people who had come to this beautiful place to put an end to this life. I was filled with two utterly conflicting emotions: terrible sadness for anyone who felt so desperate that there was simply nothing of enough strength and import to be capable of keeping them here; and deep, abiding gratitude to have people who will listen to me when things are tough. And when they aren’t. We take it so very much for granted. And it is so incredibly important. It reminded me of a poster I saw on a Council wall recently, announcing Mental Health week and telling people to ‘stay connected’. What a powerful message. No matter how bad things get, don’t hide. Connection, however apparently small and insignificant, has the power to lift the spirits in such a fundamental way. Just a smile. Or a kind word. You have no idea what the recipient is going through…

Today’s meditation was my first fail. I left it too late. We had our adventure, then the baby went to bed, and we all settled down for a Saturday night movie. I have heard about walking meditation and (don’t laugh 😉 ) I attempted a ‘hanging the laundry meditation’. I was listening to Sharon Salzburg talking about the five hindrances (on which more tomorrow). And you know what? I was doing okay! Until my mind snagged on the fact that I had only hung out three school jumpers, which meant that one of them would have to be washed *and dried* tomorrow, which is no mean feat in October with no tumble drier… And… whoosh! There it went. Logistics and planning and ‘supper time’ and oops.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Nothing planned.

Except a more efficient method of meditation.

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