I write this to the sound of a fire, sitting a desk facing rolling hills in a corner of south west England, a picture-book setting out of a children’s magic story. Actually, night has fallen, so my view, truth being told, is Laura Ashley curtains, but you get the idea.
I came to Devon, specifically to this isolated cabin on farmland, to a) get away from everything and b) start writing a second book
I still have two days left to achieve these goals (oh the irony).
For your benefit, and my humiliation, let’s do an audit…
a) – partially accomplished: I can’t help myself, chatting to locals, discovering new places, jumping in the mini and going to a cove or beach, ‘bumping’ into someone who happens to be attractive and chatty (let’s park that one), looking at twitter once or twice… but all in all, across ten days, I really do feel like I got ‘away’ from most of everything.
A lot of that always feeling ‘on schedule’ mental energy is to do with being in the phase of life they call ‘middle-age’. But I think it has over-spilled into all phases of life in modern times. That feeling of either always being on a schedule of some kind, whether it’s work, family or social related, or needing to be.
So my ‘usual’ schedule has certainly been disrupted and a lot of it dismantled. However, a lot of the reason behind me letting go of almost everything is… the energy of the environment here, and the timing in my own life to really appreciate that.
There is a stillness here that I have not encountered before in my life.
I bathe in it. All I can.
The other day I bought a bag of magnesium flakes infused with lavender. The kind that promises to remove all aches and pains and make you feel like the Queen of England.
I was about to pour some into the bath (my cabin has a great bath tub), when I held back.
I don’t need these flakes that promise you the best night’s sleep, or freedom from tension. Not here, not now.
And instead, I went out onto the deck, and looked up at the sky and saw a blanket of stars. I could hear… nothing beyond the flames of the fire in the front room.
And that’s how it’s been.
I do not need Spotify, phone calls, TV… nothing. This stillness around me is so deep and natural it is not just peaceful it is deeply nourishing, to the bone.
Going back to London in a couple of days will take this energy away, but that’s not to do with London, nor ‘going back to work’ (actually I’ve been teaching from here for the last few days), but going back to ‘regular daily life’ wherever that might be, will of course be different.
I am not resentful, and indeed I need and want to return to that ‘regularity’. Not for money or status, nor for company or being social. But so that I do not fall into the trap of thinking the spiritual path can only be found in… a cabin in Devon.
I must absorb what is offered here, and take that back with me.
Ok, so how am I doing on the second aim, how’s that book coming along..
b) – has been accomplished NOT AT ALL.
I have not written ONE WORD. I have a desk full of notebooks and books and files that I brought with me from home. I bought a whole ‘oversize’ suitcase just for the files, pads, notes. I haven’t OPENED ONE OF THEM.
I thought it would come.
Maybe on day 3, after the novelty of being ‘away’ wore off.
Or at least by day 5, surely. My pen and paper would marry and not want to be parted.
A week passed. Nothing of the new book has been written, or sketched out.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIVYA?
Then it occurred to me, only today, while ambling around the country lane down to the village centre under a big blue sky with clouds turning pink…
You came to get away. Why are you carrying that massive heavy satchel (well ok, Argos oversize suitcase) with you?
And then it sunk in.
“How were you expecting to find deep peace and get away from everything if you were still carrying your usual productivity mission?”
“What do you need to prove? And to whom?”
“Fundamentally, missy, (I don’t call myself missy, but this is a blog post not my consciousness talking), “what – really matters – here?”
And that’s been my learning.
And how poignant and beautiful and quiet that it came tonight, the penultimate night of my stay, away.
Why do I share this with you?
Well, I share it for you to take from it whatever you need to take from it. I will not impose or decide for you or anyone what lessons we are here to learn or how to improve this or that. (There are enough podcasts for all that).
However, in being my authentic ridiculous self with you, maybe something connects with that authentic (not ridiculous) spot within you.
And may I just add…
Being in a detached insulated cabin for days on end (with power shower, brilliant kitchen, good wifi and an owl as my bedmate – he sits by my window from exactly 11.30pm each night until around 3am), is…
one of the best things, I’ve ever done.
Love, and see you soon city of London,