Life is lived in the moment, all around us. Walk towards the unknown future.
Sunday morning, just after sunrise on a rocky outcrop at the furthest reach of a Cornish beach. Seated on a bench by a tiny hut high up on the abrupt cliff face, I take in the vista of life in the moment, right now.
Moving my gaze to the left, I can see in the far distance the tiny black specks of surfers’ heads bobbing in the current. They await the perfect moment to mount their boards and ride the energy of the Atlantic. Anglers stand motionless on jagged rocks jutting out to sea. Runners and dog walkers criss-cross the beach.
To my right, just feet away, wind-worn flowers offer wordless tribute to someone’s lost loved one. The flowers are taped to the outside of the barrier fence that overlooks a dangerous, near-vertical cliff-edge drop down to rocks and sea. How sad must be the story behind those flowers. How beautiful that the lost one is commemorated in this way.
Further away to my right, a fishing boat heads out west to sea. An eastbound jet crosses over its path, high overhead.
The topline melody
A visual symphony of life lived in the moment, all around me. Am I the only one to enjoy its music in this exact way at this exact minute?
Straight ahead of me, the topline melody. A swallow catches the Atlantic thermals, gliding there, suspended in the moment. Life in the moment. A perfect moment.
I feel both inside of this moment and outside of it, in the most delightful, spirit-lifting way. I hadn’t realised how much physical and emotional wear and tear I had built up over this year. In this moment I can both recognise it and feel it just starting to ease. As the visual symphony plays out in front of me, different music plays through my headphones*. Tears of joy and gratitude. Healing tears.
Willingness, discovery and healing
“Recovery is about willingness, discovery and healing.” So says my good friend Bryan Wempen, on his excellent new website, bryanwempen.com, which provides an introduction to his work as an author and speaker on addiction and recovery.
We all of us need willingness, discovery and healing at times, whether we recognise it or not. Just before I set off for Cornwall, Bryan spared a moment in his busy life to tweet me a recommendation of a film entitled Colin Hay: Waiting For My Real Life.
Prior to watching it, I didn’t know who Colin Hay even was. This is a beautiful film. As Bryan said in his tweeted recommendation, it comes alive in your living room.
Colin Hay, it turns out, is a Scottish singer, most famous by far for his time leading Australian band Men At Work. They were briefly the biggest band in the world. And then they weren’t.** So what happens next?
For Hay, his first years as a solo artist were characterised by alcoholism and a seemingly endless succession of wrong decisions. Downward spiral. He finally turned his life around by dropping his combative attitude to the world. He says:
“It’s all about surrendering. It really is just all about not picking up the sword.”
He moved to Los Angeles, bought a beautiful home, took up yoga, and continued writing songs and performing them to whatever audience turned up to listen, trusting in life itself to guide him onward. Hay says:
“I had nothing to look back to. I wasn’t walking in my old footsteps. I was walking towards something, and I wasn’t sure what that was. I was excited.”
Willingness, discovery and healing.
The waves wash away our old footsteps.
Walking towards something, excited to find out what it might be. This is what life is all about.
Thank you, gentle reader
This is the 200th post on my silly blog. I want to thank you for reading this far, my friend. You have no idea how much I love writing these words, how much joy writing gives me. When I sit down to write, I am always walking towards something, excited to find out what it might be. Five years and 200 posts in, I can’t wait to experience the next part of the journey. So what happens next?
* The song I was listening to at that moment was the heartbreakingly naive, innocent melody of Lonesome Tonight by New Order. I have no idea why that song is so titled – it bears no resemblance at all to the Elvis song of similar moniker – but my goodness, is it lovely.
The rest of my early morning roamings in Cornwall have been soundtracked by John Coltrane’s Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings, which you can get on Amazon for the absolute steal price of £3.49 on mp3. Trust me, this is the best possible use of £3.49 imaginable! A tiny taster of this four-hour masterpiece, in the shape of India…
** Like Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, Colin Hay also made a mid-80s decision to go it alone and abandon the band with which he found fame. As with the examples of Messrs Jagger and Mercury, all did not go according to plan. Here’s a little taster of this lovely film about what happened to him next…