The world is tired.
I look out of the window onto a blowy, sun-soaked afternoon.
Nine days ago I was astonished by the rich, lush, vibrant, freshness of midsummer.
Now it’s finished. The grass is bleached yellow, exhausted, leaves beginning to crisp at the edges. While berries are blistering from spent flowers, a green shining of promise.
Sweet chesnut flowers finger their way into the sunlight while leaves are already littering the pavement, scorched by the too-much sun.
In the street students are packing their cars, boxes and carrier bags stuffed with desk lamps and scatter cushions. Outside the tenanted houses piles of rubbish abandoned next to overflowing wheelie bins.
They are onto their next adventure, no looking back.
Meanwhile I find myself thinking often of the past. How twenty one years ago I moved with a husband and two small boys back to Kent, though I had been very happy in our home away from home. How that relationship waxed and waned and tore apart. How the intervening years have brought new life, adventures, love and deep connections. How I have healed and found a self long lost.
Time flows like a river in flood.
Yesterday I met a friend, we haven’t seen each other for a few years, life and family filling the gap. We were totally at ease and spent a happy few hours catching up, sharing our stories, our learnings, as we ease into midlife. Today I realised I have known her for twenty five years. This seems ridiculous. That is a quarter century. Yet we met when my eldest son was three months old and he was twenty five in January so it must be so.
Twenty five years.
Over the past year I have come increasingly to sense this passing of time. Before I would spend hours musing on what I would do in the future, where I would live, the career I might have. Or day-dreaming new projects and plans. These seemed essential, I was driven to achieve them, believing they would bring that elusive sense of arrival which I felt I lacked. The sense of being where I was “supposed” to be, perhaps, of fulfilling some pre-ordained task, a life’s purpose.
That desire has vanished now. These days I do not have grand plans or wild day dreams. I long for the ordinary, quiet routines. I thirst for time in the natural world, for the sense of connection which comes from listening to the trees, or watching a squirrel at work. For the first time I read Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day , and hear her final question differently.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Once I felt this was a challenge to great aspirations. To solving global dilemmas, conquering mountains, climbing the career ladder, achieving peak experiences by the fistful.
Now I feel that it asks, well what else is there to do? Other than to soak in the beauty of this wild, precious world? To share stories with loved ones? To follow a bee through the meadow? To stand barefoot in the freezing sea?
To stare, mute, at the orange moon as she rises?