I always remember a friend arriving back in London after two weeks traversing Scotland in a camper van, figuratively stoned on the power of the slowing down that had happened to her during the trip.
When your mind already runs a million miles a minute, being in a city like the UK capital obviously isn’t conducive to inner calm. The barbarism of all that fried chicken. Hunted day and night by the mangy urban foxes completely hooked on it.
Yesterday I sorted through a fuck-off pile of wood here in the gaff calling itself a Cultural Association, in wild and remote España, that I came to in dark, sleety English December to volunteer my labour and in return reap the fruits of the gaff.
The sky here is clear, you can see the stars mad bright by night, and the air is clean.
The sun rises to the chorus of the animals (donkeys, chickens, dogs) by morning and sketches its way across the sky in such a way that, when you’re outside all day, you can tell impressively accurately what time it is.
As I was sorting the wood, to be used to panel the inside of an in-progress outdoor sauna (yeah boy), I noticed how the bullshit of the mind more than ever was behaving like a series of weather systems, mirrored in the sky by the uncharacteristic appearance of clouds on and off for a few hours late morning.
Very useful, I find the weather system analogy (thanks, Matt Haig).
As that meditation observe-the-observer vibe kept bringing me back to awareness of whatever shite I was mulling over having been lured down into the labyrinth, I clocked eventually that the movement of the sky was literally mirroring me.
Cloud passes over the sun: mind mired in memory/imagining/ego projection. Cloud fucks off: observer kicks in and smiles knowingly. Circling round and back again until finally I really notice it and then become aware the sky has completely cleared and the mid-afternoon sun is beaming directly onto me.
I actually laugh out loud.
- Waking up with the sun and answering the animals’ call for food and freedom to piss (just the dogs, that one)
- Feeding and watering chickens and finding freshly laid eggs in wee nooks around the gaff
- A tiny black lizard snoozing on the back of a piece of wood you pick up
- A massive grasshopper on your foot in the mountain as you watch the sun go down
- Knowing what time it is by the position of the sun in the sky
- Drinking red wine with la comida in the early afternoon
- Exchanging tales with the souls here at exactly the same time as you for the same reasons
- An outdoor toilet you manually flush with a bucket of water
- No hot water (heated by the sun = not a great winter look)
- My host wants me to kill a chicken
- MY HOST WANTS ME TO KILL A CHICKEN
Ecotherapy is a thing, Mind have waxed lyrical about it here. People into science and that say the sense of awe is part of the positive effect nature has on the mind and the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of us that makes it possible to be chilled.
Awe at the sights and sounds: cute wee lizard snoozing on a piece of wood in the sun vs two mangy street foxes screaming into the night about who owns the KFC lying outside Shoe Zone.
‘Biophilia’, a term coined by Edward O. Wilson, describes what he believes is humanity’s innate affinity for the natural world, that our tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes could be a biologically based need integral to our development as individuals and as a species.
We have possibly not adapted to our separation from the natural world which is recent, in relative terms (250 years?), making the pull part of our genetic make-up and evolutionary history.
Hence, the chat goes, we’re all a bit whacky until we go sit on a rock and sob/scream/recalibrate.
I still ain’t killing no chicken, though.