So there I was walking along in the dark. The very dark. The first evening after the longest night dark. It was a clearing my head and getting some fresh air after work walk. You know the ones. To my left the sea and to my right the beach huts. As I approached a sharpish corner where things move round to the right, the beach huts and the path following the natural curve of the sea as it comes further inland and forms a smallish beach and pool, I saw a figure standing on the bend, right on the edge of the path. I knew I would have to walk right past whoever it was standing there.
So I moved as close to the edge of the concrete path as I safely could without falling down the steps into the sea and quickened my pace a bit, took my hands out of my pockets preparing my body for, well, what exactly? A brief burst of energy, some fight or flight. Ah yes. I was nervous, wary, frightened. You know the feeling don't you.
As I got closer I sent out a tentative 'Good evening', hoping the response would give me an indication of my adversary, my foe (for in those few seconds that's what the figure had become). Silence. No response. As I got too close to back away and the path curved some light from around the corner showed me the truth. The figure was a life jacket in it's casing on a pole.
I had to laugh to release the adrenalin, and carried on walking. Round the corner past the beach and then onto the road to complete the circuit. But just before I left the sea behind I turned to face it and stopped. Completely stopped. And allowed myself to feel. A few troubling thoughts immediately made their presence felt and in the intensity of them I panicked and felt as if my heart was going to break and tears came. My rational male mind immediately tried to push the feelings away and start problem solving. But then a bigger thought came to my mind.
'What's the hurry my friend, where are you trying to get to? All there is is this moment. This one moment. Be still'.
I looked out to the darkness of the sea and smelt the freshness of the air. That salty sea air. I love it. I always have. I could hear the wind making music as it made it's way past metal poles and wooden huts. I felt it's chill against my face and its dampness met the wetness where the tears were. I felt solid, whole. I was aware of my head and my hands and my feet. I could make out the sea moving and there were other shapes. I didn't need to know what they were. I was just there. Standing. Breathing. Alive.
Then the moment was over and I turned and continued walking.
I had another laugh at my earlier bit of fear, and sure enough other thoughts started rising. I realised that although it's easy to mistake things in the dark we do it in the light as well. In broad daylight we do it. We see what we want to see or what we think we can see, but we don't look. Inside we are just as dark as this very dark. We judge and project and criticise.
Then I was back, things to be getting on with, what to do first, what can I get away with not doing, did I do that right, will I do this right? Etc.
I sat down to take my shoes off and mentally relived my walk before it faded, lost to my present activity. And I remembered that for a moment, just one moment, I was still.