It’s a puddle

I’ve noticed recently that many stories and articles that I read in the news affect me differently than they used to. I know exactly why. Becoming a dad and knowing that I’m not at the back of the generational queue any more has left me very thoughtful about my boy’s world. I’ve always cared about the future – more the planet than society as a whole – but by having a physical being that I helped to create coming after me in the line has had a significant effect. I’m now a comma, not a full stop.

I do think a lot. I don’t take things at face value, and a lot of the time I have an opinion. Recently I’ve been accused of seeing the negatives in everything and it’s been intimated to me that I’m somehow grumpy most of the time. I don’t choose to be that way, it’s the price I pay for keeping up with the news and not burying my head in the sand and last week I found myself upset by a story the other day about how a toddler had been killed through a neighbour’s substance-fuelled act of irresponsibility. The story told how when the verdict was being read out in court, the father listened while holding one of his late son’s toys. It upset me quite deeply. This reaction of mine took me completely by surprise. I assume I put myself into his shoes momentarily.

I don’t mind these strange intrusions into my psyche – it’s a part of me I’ve never really heard or seen before. It’s another interesting clash of my life having to stand firm against some things that I don’t fully understand and yet allow other things, that I also don’t understand, change me.

Change. That’s an interesting word. An interesting concept. I’ve read it in philosophy books and seen it on endless internet-based imagery – the only constant is change – and change leads me nicely into the next bit of this cyber-monologue.

A couple of years ago, I sat pretty much in one of my favourite rivers. Yes I have favourite rivers. If pushed, I will reveal a top five. I don’t have a favourite TV programme or cider, but I do have a favourite river. I sat in the flow and felt the water running through my legs in a way the sea doesn’t. In a way the sea can’t. The sea isn’t as constant as a river – it just comes and goes like a fickle friend. A river works tirelessly until the end of time. Thoughts ran through my favourite Dennis Wilson songs and one of my favourite quotes from Wind in the Willows until I settled on a thought path. Fortunately I had my notebook so began to scribble thoughts that flowed very much like the river itself. It struck me how so much in life, and my life in particular, is akin to a river and as such can be understood that way. Source to the open sea and therefore eternity (and the unknown) and all that. My thoughts that day would be an article all on their own, so it’s probably best left to a short summary.

There will be an article following this at some point about my recent run to find the source of a local river so I’ll spare the details. However (spoiler alert), when I found the source, I felt strange. Overwhelmed by the amazement that this puddle effectively was a trickle that would eventually lead to a bigger river, then an even bigger river and then the sea. A colleague would say, “Dude, it’s only a puddle”, but it had me feeling amazed and emotional. It’s a seemingly insignificant river but to the life it flows through it is life. I thought of my son and thought of him as the river (don’t get the straight jacket yet). This silent trickle entering the world eventually becomes a deafening roar somewhere. It changes lives and should never be underestimated yet it should be feared and admired, respected and loved, full of life and mystery, rushing headlong to its eventual destiny.

I will take him there one day and see if he appreciates it like I do. I imagine he’ll jump in it, splash around and say, “Come on dad, let’s go”. If that’s the case then so be it.

The last words of this post I’ll leave to a quote from a Worcestershire boy like myself:

Then, as it was, then again it will be. Though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea.

Thanks for reading.

Get the tea towel. We’re going on an adventure.

There aren’t many annual dates that I mark other than birthdays and hypocritical religious events. There are even fewer that I get out of bed for while it’s still dark. It might not surprise you to learn that the so-called Black Friday is not one if them. I can’t think of a domestic event other than a supermarket car park on a Sunday afternoon that demonstrates the worst kind of human behaviour than Black Friday. Black Friday – another imported Americanism where the good people of the world put their differences aside to queue together all night only to beat the life out of each other to get a TV that is being sold for the same price as it was six months previously.

No, I’m talking about observing the equinoxes. We have four of them and they are a way of marking the seasons (actually we have two equinoxes and two solstices, in summer and winter). There are all sorts of ways you can mark the passing (or coming) of a season, but I usually prefer to get up as early as I can for the time of year and go somewhere to experience the sunrise. It’s a cliché but it would be great to go to Stonehenge though that is becoming more and more festival-like each year. I’m lucky enough to live near a hill dotted with iron age forts, Roman earthworks and significant standing stones so I kind of have my own local mecca for ancient man-made wonders.

In the past I have camped out on hills, ran 24-hour endurance races, and sat out and got drunk. All sorts really. I have even tried some Paganesque rituals and things that I have just made up because I fancy doing something that feels symbolic. It’s not always a case of doing something that will impress five Instagram followers, or just the experience of being among nature, I do actually appreciate the earth and what nature does for us and to us as well. Nature is very important to me and I want it to bloody well know that I’m grateful, so if walking about on a hillside at 5am barefoot with a teatowel over my head conveys that message, then so be it. I don’t believe in a God or deity of any sort but I do envy those that do in some respects because when they need something, they have someone to ask, something to say or somewhere to go. Nature isn’t like that really although it is most definitely omnipresent. I hope that by doing these things, nature – whatever or whoever it is, is paying attention.

This morning, I headed up there to usher in autumn. It was a tad misty but magical all the same. I had a flask of coffee while the rising sun did its work and then I set off for an 8 mile trail run. Nature was out in full swing and I saw two hares which pleased me no end. I originally mistook one for a small stray dog, it was so large on the path ahead of me. I did all this and managed to get home in time to start work. It’s my quarterly thing to do and I love it. It’s another simple yet affirming way of staying happy and positive doing what I enjoy the most.