Solitude

You are never alone with the internet, which is a problem: always being tempted to check Likes and Stats- eight page views in the last half hour! Ten upvotes for that Guardian comment!- creates a brain fog, distancing me from my feelings in a nutrition-free series of tiny pings of excitement. I am not alone with a book, or the TV. I had hoped “Cleaning Up” would be gentle escapism, the cleaning ladies getting one up on the wealthy, but it is far more subtle, even realistic: actions have consequences, there is both good and bad luck, and there is a slow, doubtful path to redemption for the hero, though she lies to herself and others, acts to make herself happy or safe in the moment whatever the consequences in two hours’ time, and is drowning in debt. Her daughters love her. But I even face that with half an eye on my laptop, and those facebook likes.

Possibly in some circumstances an Anglican church should be a “safe space”- in the East End during the Blitz, for example, giving some community reassurance in the horror. I don’t think a Quaker meeting should be. We encounter God there. But if mine has to be made safe, I may confront reality better meditating in my own flat, or in a walking meditation. I took the camera not to create beautiful images, but to record sensation. I wanted to create pictures of what caught my eye, not to package and curate a celebration or an imaginary ideal.

Though who am I to suggest the natural process of rusting, or the scaffolding of my civilisation, is not beautiful?

The photo does not show how steep the path is. I am constantly afraid of slipping and landing in the mud. And in the field, there was the sensation of soft divots thrown against my lower calves, and again the fear of slipping. And tension in the tendons at my knees. The intention is to observe what is around me, and how my body is, and for practise to develop awareness of my situation and feelings.

Because of the mud, suddenly the bush looms up, loaded with leaf-buds.

Ice on the river, though the air is above freezing. The one photo I actually wanted was from my last walk here, a coot walking on ice in the sunshine. I will see if I can take something like that. So I am not just in the moment: I am planning, and blogging, as I walk.

The river is half-visible above the thicket.

Despite the stern warning, this gate is no longer locked.

Geese on the water. I cannot create a record of my clearest impression, of a goose sliding down that bank into the river. I would need to set up the camera and wait for such a thing.

Even though there are still some on the bank.

The wet patches on the bridge are also slippery.

I did not intend to record the dog leaving a scent-mark, but that was the luck of it. My original picture did not show that the woman wore her right glove, but not her left, for the handholding.

I am not a nice person, I think, and I am where I am. This week I will meet my support worker, who is paid to get me into work (!) and the counsellor she has arranged. And I will exchange a few words at checkouts. I have stumbled into solitude, which I muddy with that obsessive checking of stats, and want to take the opportunity it brings. My boots heels hit the path with small shocks. Walking faster than others, I am slightly hot in an open coat, a thin shirt and no scarf.

That grass, taller than me, is striking.

I had not seen this inscription before. Now, writing, Google tells me it is from The Windhover by Hopkins, and that “sillion” is fresh soil upturned by a plough. Everywhere, evidence of human love!

That twig in the sun. A girl points her pink camera over ice, in the sun, with her parents on either side, encouraging, and her brother slightly ahead, on a scooter.

That I might have taken if I were curating a sales-pitch image of this place, or something for my managed image on facebook. I love the way the park is continually improved with art works.

This is the only one I have cropped. I have not adjusted the colour or light on any. That was the best view I could get of a bird walking on ice.

And the bottle catches my attention.

What of feelings? There was not much litter, the weather was beautiful, and I feel- not sure. Some fear and anger possibly. I have created my aloneness (which is different from solitude). “Self-Pity!” shout the Guards, aka the Inner Critic. They always speak up for my good, and I feel I might benefit if I could retrain them.

I know what would be good for me. Less screen, more meditation, possibly even action and encounter. I don’t know if I will manage it.

Talk to me.

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