"Blessed, truly blessed"

South Brent, Devon
South Brent, Devon
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

Good morning.

It's just getting light; I can't hear the birds, yet, as I've got my headphones on, listening to this week's edition of Quietmusic by Nick Francis. I've listened to it every Sunday for the last decade. In my house (assuming I was playing it via my Bluetooth speaker), the intro used to be a standing joke — my kids would routinely utter, just loud enough for me to here, "Quietmusic...", with sufficient drawl that I knew what they meant: "Here he goes again!"

I've also got Alfie with me. That's a rare treat. Normally, at this time of the morning, he'll be on someone's bed or fast asleep in the lounge; he's a favourite spot on one of the sofas. 

And, ...

I'm alive.

I'm here.

And if that's not something to be grateful, then...,

I don't know what else to say.

I know that's awfully melodramatic — especially for a Sunday — but, this morning, as I gawped at my reflection in the patio doors, I was immediately thrown back to a recent picture that my auntie sent me of a very youthful, and slightly brooding me. (If I can upload it, I'll try and share it at the end of this post.) I suddenly had this sense of knowing that there wouldn't be many more times that I'd see that image — not in age terms or at all. I say not many because if you consider the human lifespan alongside an oak tree or the earth or the known universe, we're here for such a short period of time. You could say, the blink of an eye.

But gratefulness or gratitude (surely) goes beyond saying thank you and being appreciative of our lot? It means living in the present moment — and I mean all body, mind and spirit — and not (always) allowing ourselves to be whisked off to some new shore, where it's so, so much better. 

I know that sounds terribly preachy and in fact, as I've said repeatedly on this blog, it's none of my damn business what you do, but when we start up the 'Needs and Wants Machine', it's not long before we forget our extant circumstances and are living life forward with increased rapidity. 

And, sadly, there's a lot of that going on right now. Everyone (I suspect) is wishing to get back to as near normal as possible, particularly with regards to seeing their family and friends or even their work colleagues. That's perfectly understandable. No, I mean that. We are, after all, social creatures and I've no doubt that many people are feeling very depressed in not being able to see, embrace and talk to their loved ones. But there's all the other stuff as well, which, without casting aspersions on anything or anyone, sounds a bit like escapism. Again, I understand all of it. You need a break; you need to feel human, again; and, let's face it, it's been a long time to be shut away from the rest of the world. But I do wonder how many people will continue to reflect, let alone hold to the good things of their Covid19 isolation? I've already said here and elsewhere that I feel blessed, truly blessed with my lot and when we start to return to normality, I'm going to deeply and reverently miss the quietness, the solitude and many parts of my daily routine, especially my slow walks with Alfie around the village. 

Right now, as I type these few words, I don't know my normal 'habitat(s)' but I feel drawn, more than ever, to silence and living a contemplative life. I don't say this in any way to set me apart: it's merely a reflection of who I am spiritually and emotionally. To put it less prosaically, I feel less anxious, less on edge when I'm on my own than when I'm around people. Even yesterday, and please don't think me an old curmudgeon, I declined the opportunity, again, to be part of an online treasure hunt — don't ask — involving my wife's sister and mutual friends who live in the village. Instead, me and daughter #3 took Alfie down to the river and just watched him play with a huge stick, swim himself into a frenzy, before walking back home. Whilst walking, we said practically nothing. It wasn't because we'd fallen out — god, no — but that's how it was. It was perfect. It couldn't have been improved. Sadly, going online again and speaking at a million miles an hour or having to act up, filled me, if not with dread, with a depressing sense of being taken out of the moment and having to listen again to the volcanic explosion of Covid19 news, which, over the past four or five weeks, I've done my best to avoid. 

Sorry, I'm going off the point.

All I'm really saying is that despite the grievous times we're living through, I think there's still much to be grateful for, including being here, being alive and being able to enjoy the smallest thing possible during our day. And somehow, we need to need hold to and remember that.

In a minute, I'll be heading out on my walk with Alfie to record today's monologue. I'll also take a few pictures to share on Twitter and Instagram; I've enjoyed recording a visual record of lockdown even though it's no more than a sensual recognition of my good fortune in living in South Brent.

I'll say it again, I'm blessed to be able to do all of this — the writing, the walking, the recording, the meditating and everything else that makes up my day. And I hope very much that I never take it for granted again.

Take care.



Here's the picture I promised. That's me tussling with my brother in front of my old man. I'm think I'm about 16.

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