I wanted to mark the day somehow and as it happened to be a beautiful and sunny morning I thought I’d walk up to Solisbury Hill and see if I could run around the top. It seemed like a cool challenge – I’ve only recently started running. Little did I know just how much I was going to enjoy it and revel in the celebration of life so far as it was revealed to me.
The walk itself was an instant nostalgia hit and even though I was walking in silence the memories whispered, giggled and rustled along with the trees that line Bailbrook Lane. It seems I have a story attached to each bend and crevice. I can see and hear the ghosts of meetings and songs, children and dogs, foraging, smiles and road rage (everyone’s had a near miss on Bailbrook!). Climbing higher I reach the woods. The atmosphere change is palpable. The light of the sun plays between the dark and shade and keeps me buoyant even as I can hear a new negative voice in my head questioning my sense to be in the woods alone. As the internal dialogue plays out, I just let go to it all and recognize the beauty of the land I’m in, despite the conversation in my head. Of course I should be here and once again the myriad of memories returns: a kaleidoscope of images circle and blend with each other re-creating truths and myths of the past. Conversations are tinged with new wisdom and hind sight but also there are those that ring loud and remain constant and true. Some things you just can’t forget or recreate – like teaching my girl how to build a fire, just in case of the zombie apocalypse; watching my stepson fly his hawk. After the noisy silence I reach the end of the woods and realize I have choices to get to the top. I make mental notes of landmarks so I can return the way I came. Final landmark – in the distance, the iconic line of poplars and at my feet a giant cowpat. Shit! I didn’t factor in the cows. I have always been a bit cautious around cows, as I grew up hearing the story of my Mum being chased by one as she carried baby me in her arms. I was thrown to someone else so she could make better her escape. Not only was she carrying me, she was pregnant too. I wonder how much of this story my imaginative self re-invented. The power of a story eh? Reality or myth – it doesn’t matter, it still has the ability to shape us past and future. A little heavy? Let’s get back to the run. Time for some music too I think and in the way that things tend to go around in circles, I put on Bashed Out by This is The Kit. This time last year I was listening to it obsessively, so much so, that when I literally bumped into the singer at The Green Man Festival, I felt like she was an old friend. Could have been an uncomfortable encounter but she completely understood. Whether you run or not, I recommend this album as a soundtrack to accompany you wandering in nature. I also recommend treating everyone you meet as a friend. All gets revealed in time including the depth of friendship.
There’s a moment of disappointment and indecision as I think my mission may have been scuppered. I’m concerned about the cows and just how curious they are about me. Maybe it’s because in my black kit I look like a mini version of them, just crazier. Mad! Cow! 50! – not sure I’m happy about where this is going. I really don’t like quitting though, so I decide to zig-zag randomly over the top of the hill; like a tracker, basing my route on the density and age of cow pats and evaluating which cows are most interested in me. Bashed Out helps me maintain a serene perspective but I’m alert to the twitching of ears and swishing of tails and I fully enjoy the underlying tension, drama and adventure I’ve created. Let’s face it I’ve never run in a straight line.
As I approach the start of the way back I realize a cow pat in line with the poplars was not the best choice of marker and in fact a third marker would have been ideal, but as I said straight lines are not me. So I sit down to just ‘be’ where I am and joy of joy I’m at a beautifully carved out maze in the grass. Yes! This is where I’ll sit a while and listen to the rest of the album with my ears whilst my body listens to the earth beneath. This amazing planet we find ourselves on, all life and death and circles and stories and learning. I lie, held, content, at peace.
The last day of being 50 and in this past week I have dived my deepest dive, run my longest run, according to Duolingo I’m 50% fluent in Spanish, I’m learning harder songs on guitar, both acoustic and electric, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again for a new term of yoga and the writing and teaching of a Foundation Course. I don’t know where 50 is along the linear trajectory of my life but it certainly wasn’t the end. In fact, there’s a sense of another beginning. A beginning coloured by all so far but malleable enough to be sculpted by the yet unknown.
When the tunes finish, I take off the headphones and head home. With the eagerness of the born again I run and I run and I run myself lost. I mean, I know the direction of home but I’m in fields I’ve never been in before and will really have to negotiate my way back with no idea how long this will take. I stand in the sun, appreciating the gift of feeling lost, not knowing. The only thing I know for sure is that finding your way back from any kind of lost creates strength and a trust right at your center. This strength is reflected in our most significant relationships, in our extended family and friendships, to all encounters, spiraling ever outwards in a compassion that embraces all life on this wondrous planet we are lucky to call home.
Thank you to this body for getting me this far and pretty well.
Thank you to the spirit of curiosity I arrived with which has kept me seeking my truths and therefore a desire to keep learning.
Here’s to embracing the rest of the journey – unconcerned by middles beginnings or ends.
In love In Peace