I was going to sit calmly in the early evening by the river.
The day had been my own, and I allowed myself the freedom to momentarily forget all the jumbled things that are pulling for my attention. Just to breathe out for a second before breathing in again. It was necessary and helpful to do so. I have a feeling it will help propel me through to the end of the year, as the dark closes in.
I went to the shop before my intended calm evening sit. I bought some houmous and dips. I might be hungry, I argued to myself. “I might want a snack as I sit there in the sunset.” I also bought a Kinder surprise egg. It was at the counter. That’s how they get you. “I can build the toy as I’m sitting in the rays of evening light.” I reasoned to myself. (In reality I just wanted some of that tasty chocolatey plastic stuff they’ve somehow created.) But my imagination had me sprawled on a riverside bench, houmous and chocolate falling out of the sides of my mouth as I marveled at a sunset worthy of The Fighting Temeraire over the pagoda across the full and flowing river. From thence I would telephone my lady friend.
Nature will just do what it pleases, despite all of our plans.
I arrived at my bench in a windstorm. The rain, it seems, was spent. But the world was blowing past my face. Air from Cuba, from Greenland, from Ellis Island, St. Helena, Sierra Leone, from Iquitos.. All these places and more buffeting in seconds past my hat as I clung to it. Not to be put off, I sat on the bench anyway. The tide was out so I couldn’t see the reflections from the water. Rolling clouds obscured the sunset completely. It was windy and dark.
I took my houmous out and resolutely started munching as the dips almost blew away to Greenland. Car drivers shot by behind me as I munched, narrowly avoiding the puddle that would completely drench me if they didn’t avoid it. I realised very quickly that I wouldn’t be able to build the kinder surprise for wind, let alone the constant jeopardy from careless puddledrivers. I went to call Lou. I think by calling her I was hoping to cling one last time to the idea of the moment I had planned.
The wind was so wild we couldn’t hear each other at all. “I can’t hear you. I’ll speak to you tomorrow”.
I had to abandon the whole plan.
I sat instead and looked at the pagoda directly across the river from the bench. I felt the size of the wind and let myself be stationary within it. Leaves and branches everywhere (even if these trees are manicured obsessively by a council that could get sued). It was peaceful. It wasn’t what I’d planned. But it was something.
I think there’ll be a lot of that for the next month. Let’s try and find the light in the dark. Let’s try and be the light so others can find us. It’s going to be alright in the end. This dark time is fleeting, and even when you can’t see the sunset you can still find beauty and connection in the wind on your face. And if somebody soaks you with a puddle, it’ll be a story in the end.