Island Blog 193 To be content



It is one glorious morning out there. The sealoch is rippled but only just, the surface like oil turning the water sultry and giving me back blurry trees.  Sunlight lays across the hills bringing the dying grasses into relief, long lines of 9 carat gold.  A flurry of white birds, too fast in flight to identify, moves across a hillside, glorious in its dying. A buzzard sits on a fence post, close enough for me to study that huge beak, the bright eyes watching every move, the speckled tail feathers.   A heron squawks as it follows the tide, its flight slow and langorous, huge wings, a pterodactyl.  A woman walks her dog past my window, deep in thought.  What day does she have in mind I wonder, or is it the day that has her in mind?

As the season changes, so do we, if we take the time to engage with it.  Autumn is the favourite of many, me included, although I could be challenged on that once the long cold months that follow like bridesmaids in her wake knock her on the head and take over.  For now,  I love to walk among conkers and acorns, to consider the creatures preparing for hibernation like my friend Mel who doesn’t do ‘cold’ and who has her house set at boiling point from now till May.  I tell her she’ll be broke by 60 if she thinks that way now and I am tempted to tell her to put on another jumper, but resist for fear of sounding like my mother. Besides, I’m not wild about cold either.  I don’t mind it out there, but I do mind it in here.

Cold is a verb I think, much like Happy.  The words we employ as states of being are often states of doing.  I appreciate that the grammer buffs will be itching to correct me, but just indulge me for a minute or two.  When I feel cold, I have choices, whether the cold is outside of me or deep within.  If I don’t want to be cold I have choices – yes, another jumper is a good start.  A better idea is to plan a walk – what now?  yes now.  Why not now?  It doesn’t have to be a 10k hike, but simply a stepping out into the day, walking into a bit of it, feeling it, watching it, becoming a part of it. I will find I am not only able to create warmth inside and out, but because of that involvement with something much greater than me, I will also be changing my mind.  I will see something that makes me smile, or I will find an answer to a problem.  I have no idea how it happens but it does.  If I stay here shivering, nothing changes and no answers come to me.  I am likely to consider turning up the heating which leads to concerns about fuel bills, or to feel disgust at the uninteresting contents of my jumper drawer, leading to Grumbledom where everyone is always cold.

Being happy is also a doing thing.  If I wait for something magical to happen I will die in the waiting.  Not because nothing magical happens but because I am too busy not engaging with my life to notice when something does, and those somethings are always the ‘little’ things, the moments, the encounters, the diving into whatever my life currently is and to set about ferretting for the acorns or the conkers shiny-hiding beneath a carpet of gold.

I am not cold and I am happy but not because life has given me an easy ride.  Life doesn’t give anyone that.  In fact, the more challenges life throws at a person, the more content she can find herself becoming.  Inside a secure and well planned life there may appear little need to seek anything much beyond the gratification of the next appetite.  Everything is wonderful, safe, sorted.  If, no, when that life is tipped or toppled a girl is thrown with it and will find herself showing her underpants for a while, until, that is, she straightens herself, not her life.  Only then will she seek the small things.  The big things (she thinks) are beyond her control now.  But in noticing the small things, the apparently small things, those small things that have stood the test of thousands of years, she will find them a whole lot bigger than she ever thought.  To laugh out loud at a furious argument between two male sparrows, or to gasp and to really feel that gasp as a robin grabs a butterfly for lunch is to be engaged with life at its deepest level.  It also makes mockery of the accumulation of dust on mahogany surfaces or the blobs of sheep poo on the beige carpet (who on EARTH ever chooses beige?) or the fact that yes we have no bananas because I forgot to buy them.

In short….and I have been long in saying this……when a day dawns it is I who have it in mind and not the other way around.  I may not be able to control what happens within it, but I sure can control how I respond.


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