There is something about a misty Autumn day in England which can make me both happy and sad at the same time. Like age, Autumn brings its own beauty - it's own happiness and it's own wistfulness. The physical energy of summer has gone and the raw cold of winter is yet to come. But everything about life is cyclical and Spring will return once again...
At one time I thought I was simply going around in circles, until I realised that I was actually spiralling - the trick seems to be to determine whether I am circling upward like an eagle on a rising thermal of warm air, or downward, like a World One bi-plane, spiralling on it's way to destruction.
And I have done both.
Last Sunday was Remembrance Day which was broadcast on all our major TV networks. Liz and I watched the service and procession from the Cenotaph in London's Whitehall, as the Queen and all the heads of state, both national and international, gathered to pay homage to those that died in the first world war, which used to be called the "Great War" and which ended 90yrs ago. Each year there are less and less old soldiers, but they are replaced, as Liz noticed, with their sons, daughters and grandchildren. We must never forget, and resist the downward spiral to carnage.
My latest 'bad luck' period came round on my own spiral of fortune. I had endured a remarkable run of bad luck in the Spring - had the 'Hurtful Spirit' returned? More importantly, what if anything had I learnt from my first encounter of the year with capricious fate?
After the Remembrance service was over, Liz and I decided to take advantage of the hire-car which I have been renting and take a drive to Lotherton Hall near Leeds. The drive to the hall, through winding country roads was a pleasure and the hire car was so much easier to drive than my old Peugeot. I'm not used to power steering and braking, but after initially trying to stand the car on it's nose several times, I soon began to enjoy the experience of a top of the range automobile...
The spiral returned to ill-fortune once more, when the temperature gauge on my old car suddenly glowed red. I was late and had to be on-stage in Dartford by 2.30. I stopped and discovered that the radiator had sprung a leak. I grew up on old cars and had learned always to have a supply of water and oil, tools and bits of tape and wire in the boot. I discovered a rusty tin of radiator sealant and after trying for several minutes to open it, I managed to puncture the can with a screwdriver and poured in the gungy treacle. I then refilled the radiator with water and tried to ignore the fact that it was still leaking as I set-off again; convincing myself that the leak would seal as the water temperature went up. Around five miles further on my hopes were dashed however, as the red light reappeared. "Damn" I was around fifteen miles from the next services and continued with the vain hope that I would get there before the engine seized...
...Liz was really enjoying the ride, even though she had to sit on a cushion to see out of the windscreen. For Liz, Lotherton Hall is so near and yet so far, as there are no bus services. We eventually arrived, parked the car and set off in the damp smokey air, toward the old house, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens and woodland paths.
...Needless to say, I missed the show and wrecked the engine. That together with rehearsing and generally trying to keep my life together, left little time for writing. I did however, visit Liara Covert's 'Dreambuilders' and left a comment which indicated I was going through a bad patch. Liara's reply was encouraging...
"May Higher Forces guide you to find new strength."
...a few days after Liara's message, a guide arrived in a most unusual way. Returning home one night, I noticed what seemed to be a small catalogue in a transparent plastic bag amongst the junk-mail and free newspapers on my doormat. Further investigation revealed it to be a dog-eared and torn book....
Rounding the corner of the stately home, Liz and I came upon a statue of an ancient oriental priest, reading a sacred book. The interesting thing was that the priest was holding the book at an angle, as if to share it with someone beside him…
...I picked it up and read the following lines:
"Our life is an endless journey; it is like a broad highway that extends infinitely into the distance. The practice of meditation provides a vehicle to travel on that road. Our journey consists of constant ups and downs, hope and fear, but it is a good journey.
The practice of meditation allows us to experience all the textures of the roadway, which is what the journey is all about..."
I'm never quite sure if there are separate forces; I'm more sure of collective forces, both spiritual and physical - indeed 'physio-spiritual' - and yet there does seem to be a force that can help; a force that cannot be manipulated, coerced or controlled, from a selfish motivation...
...The statue was of Sho-Haku a pilgrim priest, carrying a gourd and reading a divine work. According to legend, this priest travelled from town to town reading the Scriptures to all with whom he came in contact. He was also known as the Paeony Priest because of his love for the cultivation of Paeony flowers.
There was no message, inscription or any clue as to who had put the book through my letterbox -
It was mysterious and I enjoyed the mystery...
....after a while, we stopped for a hot drink in the tearoom and then made our way to the car...
.I got lost a few times on the way back - but I eventually found it.
It was a good journey and I'm sure we will return.
And in a mystery to be, when time from time shall set us free, Forgetting me Remember me
E. E. Cummings