I am currently on a weeklong holiday in the west of Ireland. Each morning after breakfast, I do some work. Then, I take myself out for a walk. I rush the walk to get it out of the way so I can pop into a pub or café to use the WiFi.
Not too long ago, I felt peace. I appreciated nature. I could lie in a bubble bath and listen to music or read a novel over a frothy cappuccino.
How easily I’ve forgotten. How quickly I’ve transformed into a busy, perfection-driven woman who finds it hard to sit still.
Lately, I’ve been trying to fit as much as possible into every single day. No wonder I wasn’t glad when morning arrived.
Even the things I’d once enjoyed had become just another chore to tick off the self-renewing to-do list. Cycle – check. Meditate –check. Prepare Positive Living class – check.
Even nature, my most favourite thing in the entire world, had become an afterthought to work and exercise. When I did get out in it, I sped through it, favouring body tone over nourishment of the soul.
Today, the sun comes out and I decide to go for a walk. Alone. I leave the phone in the car. I don’t listen to music or take photographs. Today, I walk slowly. I roll up my sleeves and feel the heat on the back of my neck. I breathe. I inhale delightful fragrances that bring me back to simple childhood holidays.
I pause to take in the aqua milkiness of the ocean. I watch a man swimming. A fluffy green caterpillar inches its way along the path. Seagulls congregate on a large, flat rock. Cows graze in a field below.
A woman sits on the cliff edge, eyes closed, face tilted towards the sky. I wonder if she’s being truly present, mindfully aware of all of her senses. Or is she simply completing her daily chore of meditation?
Even though it pains me, I challenge myself to sit for a few moments. To just sit. I exhale a sigh of frustration.
Then, I gaze out at the waves as they crash upon the rocks. The waters roar mightily like the exciting take-off of an aeroplane.
The ocean speaks to me of opportunity and adventure, beauty and impermanence, creation and destruction. Tears spring to my eyes.
But even now, in this blessed moment, I am eager to get back. Because I have been mentally making note of everything I’ve experienced. This is the curse and wonder of being a writer.
I take a deep breath. I breathe in and out. I accept myself as I am in this moment. A writer who is forever composing. A human being who is doing her best. A person who is learning and growing and steeping herself in the awareness that will ultimately set her free.
This evening, I go for a second slow-paced walk along beach, cliff and country road. I peer out at boats bobbing in the bay. I stroll past jellyfish, seaweed and salt-polished pebbles.
I sit several times along the way. I marvel at the sheer magnificence of a cliff face. Gulls soar overhead. I walk beneath a cacophony of starlings perched upon wire.
The sight of fuchsias makes me well up. The scent of cow dung and the perfume of a passing stranger make me smile.
I saunter past stone walls, a tractor and a good-looking horse. I feel my body as it moves. My hips roll and my arms sway. This evening, I do not rush or yearn for the finish line.
I stop to taste roadside blackberries. I pick a handful to take home. For the remainder of the journey, I walk palm up, my hand ink-red with an offering of sweetness.
I realise that when I’m an old lady, reflecting on the beauty of my life, I won’t be thinking about the times I power-walked up hills. I’ll remember the magical moments when I sat and witnessed the silent majesty of a gliding gull and the mesmerising movements of the ocean.