Glorious. Simply glorious.
I felt light. I felt free.
I felt the shadows of the past week lifting from my chest and my shoulders. Weight that I didn’t know was there until that moment.
This was the moment since March I had ventured from the house. With nobody in sight. No traffic. No shouts from the kids next door. No banging or shrieking. But that wasn’t it in its entirety. It had so much more to do with the green, the soft blowing wind, the cool shade and the birdsong.
Maybe its true what they say that with that old forgetful cliché that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone…
And for all of us, it wasn’t that it was gone – it was just out of reach. Like Tantalus forever out of reach of that branch replete with grapes. Little could we see beyond the anxiety and concern that the cure for what plagues our soul was outside the gates of our front doors.
I will not tell you where my little piece of soul food was, but rather that the simple piece of woodland laced with English oaks, sun-bleached bluebells and the spirit-lifting sound of song birds were all the pick-me-up I needed to face more of the lockdown we all continue to tolerate.
I used the word ‘withstand’ the other day. It was in a phone conversation with a person I had never met. I said that we had all withstood this virus. In our homes, in our decisions and in our actions. We have done it all while much of the wonder and goodness of our lives has been out of reach. Intangible.
People. Places. Communities. Our lives.
And what we had left to us were our concerns, our worries, our actions and our inactions. Which of course continue. Heavy. Awkward to bear. Such pressure.
But when I stepped out on that sun-baked mud track and breathed my first full breath of new air. I felt that life itself was possible again. That whilst this plague took away our loves and our lives, that I had some control of me. To take myself to a place that smelled of goodness, of a simplicity rooted in the wellbeing that landscape and exercise gives you.
I’m a walker. I’m a dawdler. I wander and I dwell. I ask questions and I am curious. I feel awe and wonder. I see beauty in all things. I see hope in all situations. And I see it now.
For as I wandered, and I walked. And I saw the small things – the fading bluebells that saw their magnitude a few weeks before, it mattered not because they were still here. And that they will bloom again in one more year, and again, and again.
I read of an impending mental health crisis, of people struggling under the weight of a world put upon them. I read of concern and worry. I read of people, young and old, struggling to identify their place in this new world, what ever it will look like.
I have only one thought such as it is – that freedom when it is given will give us opportunities. Make simple choices. Don’t rush to return to a life that once was. For we have all changed. Life has changed. And we cannot go back to the way it was. It no longer exists. This has changed us all.
Prioritise your wellbeing. Not in the trite or throwaway manner of it. But rather recognise that we all need to find that path through the woodland, to see our own wilted bluebells and to hear our all calls of nature. To exist in the new world order. To breathe in with clarity that only space gives us. To make decisions for our own good not in response to a world you are trying to claw back.
Look up at the horizon. The sun still rises and falls. The leaves on our trees still bud and fall. Respond to this event by making the best choices for you, in full clarity of the world that continues to exist beyond the virus and its effects.
Your woodland might be in the words on a page. They might be in a conversation with a friend or a loved one. They might be in an action to have chosen to make for the first time or in a long time. Come up for air and breathe. Breathe in slow deep breaths just as I did as I stepped through the tree-lined pathways and I observed. And listen. Just listen.