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Monday, 4 March 2013

Tuesday 26th February

The time has gone so quickly that it hardly seems possible I have been here a week already. This time last week I was looking forward to 11 days of adventures – walking in all weathers, against the elements, or sometimes without them at all. The first day certainly felt like that. I walked all the way down to The Pyramid where I scrambled halfway down that chunk of jagged rock and lay sprawled up facing the sun – the first time I believe that I have actually lain on the rock itself. One day I keep telling myself, I will make it all the way to the bottom.

As the weather worsened, and we have had some atrocious conditions this week, with icy cold south easterly winds that go right through you, I seem to have settled into a routine – wake up, take breakfast back to bed, coffee (or tea), shower, lounge around and then finally, walk. The only day I have been out for what I would call a substantial amount of time was I think Saturday when I walked all around the island – that and the first day, one week today when I went down to the Pyramid. As a result, I do not really feel that I have gained everything from this holiday that I hoped, but then again, I am not sure what I hoped to gain.
Peace and solitude – well if that is correct, then I have gained both of these in abundance. For some reason though, the mind does not seem to have switched off. I am not sure why that is. It is quieter for sure than when I got here, and the body too has relaxed, but it does not have that same quality as when I first began to come to Lundy all those years ago. It has been eighteen years this summer, and after 34 visits I still find new things to see – like the hut circles that I stumbled into out of nowhere and probably will never be able to find again. When you start to see them properly you suddenly start to see them everywhere I find.

Why though I ask myself have I found it so hard to completely switch off? Maybe it is because as I get older I spend more time indoors with the mind for company, or maybe it is the weather that has forced me to do this. No, I do not think this is true, for I have been out and about most days, and the mind has continued to wander even then. It is like an endless stream of anxiety and discontent that I am vaguely aware of, always there just on the periphery of my vision – like something you catch out of the corner of your eye. Whispering away in dark corners, in all the recesses trying to grab your attention and divert you from being in the now. And in that one brief statement, I have probably answered my own question. It is the ego that seeks to distract, by finding ways to keep your mind constantly going over the past and the future, in order to keep you from the now, for it knows that should you hit that golden moment, then in that moment the ego and therefore the mind, in which it dwells will cease to exist. Since we equate our mind with ourselves (I think, therefore I am), we subconsciously feel that if the mind goes still, then we ourselves no longer exist, and so we learn to equate this stillness with death. The irony is that when the mind is allowed to completely go still, then time itself stands still, and we are the most alive that we have ever been.
What though does it take to reach this state if a week on a half on Lundy fails? All it takes is one minute, one second even to glimpse infinity, for once we have reached that moment even once, there is no going back, and I have reached that moment for seconds at least most days if I am honest and really look for them. I have just not been able to maintain them - not for more than a few hours on that Saturday that I spoke of. Then the mind was back, chattering away as usual with all the endless internal babble about what to have for dinner and about what I needed to bring with me when I return in five months time – ridiculous I know, but that too has become a habit.

My coffee in the meantime continues to get cold, but the wind howls and rattles the windows outside. The sun is trying to poke its way through, so we will see what the day decides to bring and where I deice to walk today. The rhododendron walk is calling – the one place I have not got to since I arrived, and perhaps a sit in The Ugly admiring that views that I never tire of. Whatever I decide, I will make the most of t, for it will be over all too soon.
In the end I spent most of the morning holed up in the cottage with a book for company – one about a midwife in Mali, West Africa and her American Peace Corps companions – the fifth book I have read since I arrived. After a quick lunch of toasted cheese and quorn ham sandwich with cauliflower and broccoli cup soup, I finally made it outside just before 2pm.

I was intending to walk only as far as Halfway Wall and then back via The Castle to try and see the goats, but decided to go down to The Battery, where I sat in the wind behind the wall at the old ammunition store for half an hour just enjoying the silence. Then it was back up to Halfway Wall and on The Pyramid, where despite the wind and the overcast skies, I decided to walk down, knowing perhaps that I may not have the chance again before the summer. It was a brief visit just to take some more pictures of the rocks below, warmed by the slightly reddish hues of my sunset mode.
The new camera I bought a few months back has more than provided its worth during this trip, with the slightly wider lens and even longer zoom, not to mention the exceptionally wide aperture – f2.8 even at the extreme end of the zoom – unheard of in even an old film camera. Pictures that I have been seeing in my mind’s eye for several years now have finally been captured to good effect.
Anyway, it was while I was sitting at The Battery that the mind began to wander again – back to the old job and everything that transpired. The tears began to fall as I finally gave in to those emotions that I felt were gone for good  - all the anger and frustration of being forced to leave a job that I loved, and I felt was rather good at, due to the behaviour of a selfish and arrogant man. I knew in that moment that when I got home, back to the cottage I had to write those feelings down in the form of a letter to him, not for him to see but rather for me, so that I could finally let it go, and so when I got back shortly after 5pm that it what I did.

The beginnings of the letter have been written, telling the story as I see it, from the beginning with no holds barred. I know that a lot of it has been said before, but I never did have the chance to speak to him, and this is my way of finally doing this, so I can put the whole thing to bed. There is more that needs to be said, and the words will come in time, but for now I have made a good start. The only thing I need to start now is tonight’s dinner.

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