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Monday, 7 July 2008

Words are not enough

Tuesday 1st July

So much has happened since I wrote this last Friday, that I hardly know where to begin. Lundy seems to have such an effect on me that I cannot begin to describe, where the mind goes incredibly still and silent. It is difficult to find words to describe such intense and deeply personal experiences – walking across sunlit fields in the evening light as a group of deer cross the path in front of you, watching the sun slowly sink beneath the horizon as a ball of glowing red fire that sets the sky ablaze, listening the skylarks as they rise high into the air and sing their hearts out, presenting to you your own private aria. How you do find the words to adequately express such intensely personal experiences that touch your soul in ways that no one could begin to imagine.

Words by themselves could never be enough to convey even a fraction of the magic that Lundy conveys. Where that magic comes from and what it means is as much a mystery as the island herself, and after 26 visits I am still no closer to discovering what this is. To me, it is about the total absence of distractions of any kind, the strength that comes from solitude and spending time in silence with nothing but your own company and the sound of the sea and the wind which washes everything away, like pouring liquid light into the soul.

Visiting Lundy allows me a very brief glimpse into my own soul. This has been a year when I have faced much heartbreak and much agonising over various things – it has been a year when I have had to face the fact that I will probably never achieve the literary success that I would have liked, yet in the end that does not matter. I am alive and Lundy reminds me of that. While places like this exist, there is light and hope for the world.

What then have I done these past few days? I seem to have crammed in a lot – on Sunday a trip to the Quarry Beach – my first since 2000 when I slipped and hurt my knee coming back up. I had been too frightened to go down since, but as I stood at the top of the ladder that leads to the beach, let out a great whoop of joy in triumph at having got over that fear. As I sat on the beach enjoying the hot sunshine on my bare arms and legs I was struck by how beautiful this part of the island is, and how when one spends any length of time there, one is transported almost to another world. Lundy is indeed one of those mythical otherworld realms, and no one who experiences her comes away untouched.

Yesterday then was a trip back to the beach, which was needed as confirmation that I had overcome this fear and could claim the beach back as ‘mine’, as another place that I could visit. This time I stayed down there for the entire morning – from around 11am until after 2pm, and then scrambled back up, as the sun went behind a cloud to traverse the other side of the island, and climb gingerly down to the bottom of the Pyramid.

Who would have thought when I first started coming to this island that I would have the strength or the courage to climb down to the bottom of a long grassy slope to a pyramid shaped chunk of rock at the foot of the sea, and sit for hours with the sun blazing down and seabirds wheeling overhead as they scuttle backwards and forwards feeding their rapidly growing young. Who would have thought that half the things that have happened to me since that first visit back in 1995, would have come to pass.

13 years ago I was working for Boots in a job that I detested; I was living at home, with no partner, but crucially had just met my first spiritual teacher. Today I am a self published author of one book, which is stocked in over 100 book shops nationwide, I have my own home, a job which I for the most part enjoy despite the challenges, and a loving partner. I am also more self aware than I have ever been, and for the first time perhaps in my entire life, have come to really love who and what I am. It is not Lundy that has given me these things, but she has certainly helped, as a place to rest my weary soul in times of trouble, lending me that shoulder of support on which I know I can always depend.

Today I awoke to glorious blue skies, and so left the cottage by 8am to walk to the Battery and around the west side as far as halfway wall to take pictures in the early morning light. Then it was back to the shop, and a brief chat to Reg, who celebrated his 77th birthday the day after mine, after 14 years on the island (the longest standing member of staff I believe), and my friends Peter and Pat.

Then it was down to the Landing Beach for what I had hoped would be a day of lazing around in the sun. The boat came in and I wandered down to the jetty to welcome her in and take yet more pictures as the people disembarked. Then it was a scramble round to Rat Island to find that the tide was too far in to attempt to get too close, and then back round to the main beach for an hour and an half until the sun disappeared behind a big black cloud.

It was still warm though, so I stayed for another hour, enjoying a brief and very cold paddle in the sea, but when the tide began to come in high up the beach around 2.30pm it was time to go reluctantly back to the village, via the shop for the Satsuma’s that I had forgotten earlier. Then onwards and upwards back to the cottage for a heavenly cup of tea and to wash the salt off my skin with a hot shower. The rain then began to come down and has been coming down ever since, in rivulets that cascade steadily down the winter pane. Well, it has been threatening for days, with the humidity steadily building, and a good downpour does clear the air.

I have three more days (four if you count Saturday) to enjoy the island before it is time to go back to normality, whatever that is. I will be counting the days until I can go back to this welcome sanctuary, the light of my existence.

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