Thanks to an award from the Society of Authors worth six months of gardening, I am donating most of my present moments to writing about the shed and other shed-related issues; ecological obliteration, the housing crisis, stars.
I’ve been animal sitting among snow-covered mountains on a remote hillock topped with a few dozen tall and bendy Scots pines. The pines shield me from the worst of the weather and harbor owls and kites. There’s a windmill and a hammock and horses to ride.
I was sitting by the stove, feeling the ache of time passing and cuddling the kitten, when this poem arrived:
Next up on my monkish writing trail is another house, and after that a wooden gazebo in the woods, but on both sides of the house and the gazebo is a stint at the meditation centre.
A few people have mentioned recently that they think meditation is self-indulgent. I have wondered if they were right. But last night I watched the startlingly good BBC film Bitter Lake and I knew they were wrong. As Schumacher wrote, way back before most of the things in the film had even happened:
‘Where can one find the strength to go on working against such obviously appalling odds? What’s more: where can one find the strength to overcome the violence of greed, hate and lust within oneself?’
Some other people have said that they think meditation is boring. I get that. I have also been conditioned by Twitter to have the attention span of a goldfish. All the more reason to meditate. Sit down. Shut up. Stop buying stuff. Reverse the awfulness of Bitter Lake.
Plus, I increasingly consider boredom a failure of my own mind. As Geoff Dyer puts it:
‘Often when you’re bored, it’s that friction between you and time.’
The older I get, the more I want to learn to live in time. The more we run away from time the more time runs away from us, but moments fully embraced seem to stretch time. As Nadine Stair wrote in another poem, when she was 85:
Oh, I have had my moments And if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments,one after another. Instead of living so many years ahead each day.
Poems, like kittens, only appear when we’re sitting quietly doing nothing. Violence, on the other hand, requires blind and furious action.