Today is our last day in Cornwall. We arrived late last Saturday as I’d been at a memorial event for a young person I’d worked with through her adolescence who had tragically died. She’d been a success story for us at the time – gone to University, stopped self harming. Her death and the event had put me in full blown life is futile mode (what is the point? Why are we here? etc etc). You can imagine it wasn’t the most fun car journey for C. We arrived late to our tiny cottage and there was a bottle of wine in the fridge. Once again I was reminded that the above train of thought leads to justification for drinking. ‘Fuck it – we’re all going to die anyway, may as well enjoy myself’ – you know how it goes. Anyway I didn’t and the wine is still there. I’m much better at fast forwarding the movie to the end (a tool from Kate Bee’s sober school) and reminding myself I don’t actually want to feel worse or go through the early stages of sobriety for a 3rd time.
For the first time that I can remember since childhood we’ve abandoned clocks and time. No routine, no mealtimes, just gone with the flow. Like the summer holidays from school where a day would just unfold. We’ve not done very much at all and I’ve let nature wash over me and bring me some peace of mind just as it did when I was little. I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time outdoors alone. Walking with the dogs, riding in the fields, sitting by the brook. Just being. This week I’ve reconnected with that part of me which can be hard to find in my busy urban life now.
One of the ways I repeatedly live in the gap (see Scrabble post) is to focus on C’s age. He’s 20 years older than me and I can get preoccupied with what he can’t do and the likelihood that he’ll die before me. He’s pretty fit but he can’t walk very fast or very far compared to me. These thoughts are corrosive; burning away the feelings of love and contentment that we’re lucky enough to share right here right now today. Fears for the future eating up today’s happiness.
Mid week one of my oldest and dearest friends messaged me to say a dear old friend of hers had died. My last memory of him is him dancing with his daughters at her 50th. He wasn’t yet 50 when he died. Completely tragic.
I could have gone back into fuck it mode but really I’d have been using someone else’s tragedy as an excuse to drink. Far better to turn it to gratitude. So yesterday I went for a walk along the coast path with just the little dog for company. I figured that instead of focusing on what C can’t do, I could appreciate all the things he can and do the other stuff by myself or with others. I’m not really a co-dependent sort of person so don’t get why this has been so hard for me to work out? Seems so obvious as I write it now!
The walk was breathtakingly beautiful. The changing coastline; waves crashing on the rocks; birds circling above; wild flowers and wild ponies. It felt good to exert myself, to connect with the land and sense it’s deep history. A reminder of how little time and space we actually occupy in the big, universe scheme of things but without the sense of futility. Appreciating being alive.
I’ll be back in the city and living by the clock again next week. I was depressed when I left and I’m not now. I need to keep this nature filled, timeless space in my heart as full as I can if I’m going to stay grateful. Thank you beautiful Cornwall.