I had a fantastic weekend: Three days at the beach, two surfing my kayak and one just paddling along the North Devon coast just exploring. The surf was a bit insane on Saturday and what with the injuries sustained by my face and my boat coming together in the boiling chaos of a wave that was way too big for my current capabilities, I decided eventually to forego any further thrills in the surf while my smashed nose stopped bleeding.
But a good time was had and I felt mellow with that radio silence inside my head that I only get after a serious amount of time in the sea. Silence such as this is a welcome relief from the usual clamour of suggestions, arguments, revelry and confusion that characterises the inside of my head most of the time and for a while I like it.
I noticed however that I was a bit distant, though calm and relatively content, for the rest of the weekend after each trip out on the water. Questions would be asked like "Where is the tin opener?" and "What did you do with the mallet?" and I found myself either quiet with amused bafflement at the question or just plain "out to lunch".
It occurs to me that with my small dabblings with meditation that this "quiet" is not actually a good thing from the perspective of imaginative productivity or what I might term, my general "peteness". (People have come to expect a certain liveliness and bouncing around of tempo from me).
Last night, I worked on my allotment, which I have had for a decade or more. I planted up some courgettes that were long overdue for transplanting but which had to wait on account of my other, aforementioned passtimes.
I pottered around and prepared some beds wich had been languishing under black landscape fabric for nearly a year and were consequently lovely and easy to dig.
I left the place partly completed awaiting growth and subsequent harvest and other ground prepared and languishing in the feeling of potential that prepared ground always leaves me with.
It was very satisfying. A good wholesome feed for the soul. And I left feeling quiet and mellow.
And yet, when I came to talk later, I found my head devoid of the usual buffet of tasty conceptual treats, buzzing sparking notions and whimsical trains of thought that I generally enjoy when left to my own devices on an aeroplane or in a dentist's waiting room.
I had, I felt, somehow, lost that "spark" that people comment on and which characterises one of the reasons I enjoy being me.
So, mellow spiritual creaminess: Is it a good thing? It might bring a kind of peace, but after a while, how does it leave us?
And if we are in this state permanently, and feeling fainly content with it, is that a bad thing?
I confess that I see many pallid faces on a daily basis which seem happy to be devoid of any other thinking beyond what is for the next meal, who will win Britain's Got an Excruciating Lack of Embarrassment, or where to go on holiday this year. Is that a bad thing?
I feel it is, for me, a bad thing. So often, it is a joy to let the mind run, like a greyhound kept in a small flat who has been let out on some huge common to bound with delight over the ant hills and over the bracken. Occasionally to race with or frolic with a like minded soul who is released to run, or who live wild and free on the Heath brings a realisation of what is possible. The changes of pace, the sharp turns and twists and the sure-footed grace and speed is exhilarating.Surely you know what I mean with this?
And then, the confinement which seemed mildly comforting such a short time before, suddenly seems a shame, a waste, a minor tragedy of potential.
Radio silence is good for a while. This much is clear. But in moderation.
Wholesome is healthy as long as it is not all there is. To run across the horizon of the mind as fast as one likes can be a release for the soul and allow the full functionality of a personality, but probably done all the time would result in a kind of scatteredness of focus leading to drifting.
And so once again, the most important word in the English language appears to be "balance".
At the moment, the flights of glorious fancy and resultant enjoyable melee are too few and fleeting. Wholesomeness has become the norm and like bran consumed to excess, is beginning to cause an irritation that will need some richness of diet to relieve.
Now where can I find such a morsel?
©Pete Earlam 2009