Mindfulness of ruined worlds

Contemplating the beauty and serenity of Sable’s ruined world gave me some comfort. On one level, if and when Earth is finally desolate it might at least be peaceful, mysterious, and interesting to its surviving scavenger tribes. There’s something awe-inspiring about thinking on that timescale.

Would the denizens of a post-apocalyptic world be awake to the strange beauty of their situation? Probably no more than we are here and now. But if we could relate to our environment as we do such Ozymandian science fiction, with curiosity and fascination, accepting the world on its own terms, we’d probably be a lot happier.

This might be one of the things mindfulness can do for us. We take notice at the level of simple sensory experience—seeing a crumbling building, hearing a seagull, feeling a cool breeze—all without bending these perceptions into a story about me. Alive to the unlikely spectacle of it all. If we do that, perhaps instead of viewing our surroundings as broken and wrong, we’ll simply stare with wonder.

Rain on the terrace

Rain with the backdoor open. The smell is more than ozone. It’s healing. The downpour on concrete outweighs this patter of keystrokes tenfold. Vine leaves, acer, and privet reach everywhere to catch the moment. Devon is verdant even in a garden without grass. It’s only in remembering that we realise we have forgotten. Unloading the dishwasher can wait. The sounds of kids’ TV have become abstract. It’s easy to forget one’s true responsibility in the crush of imagining failure and success. Half a life has passed. How long before I step into the rain?

Sea swimming

There’s a charge to swimming in the Atlantic that you don’t get at the local leisure centre. Perhaps it’s the abrasive quality of salt, or the electric feel of the cold. Getting in is the hard part. The passive among us may let the waves do the work: a progressive submergence. The bold will run and dive, but this is rash. Showboating may be followed by an abrupt exit. Waist deep is significant progress. Then all that’s required is one duck into the water. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. You might as well start swimming to keep warm.

Once in, the waves move you and cold surrounds you, making feel connected to something larger than yourself. At Porthgwidden beach you see birds arc around the chapel, and Godrevy lighthouse bob on the horizon. Boats cut the water out beyond the buoys. It may even feel that the experience wouldn’t be as refreshing were the water a mediterranean 25ºC. Just be sure to have a warm coffee waiting when you get out.

Thunderstorm

Lightning arced on all sides of the bay for nearly two hours. Great forks and ambient flashes lit the warm front, turning rooms blue and pink. Rain made wooden sounds on rooftops. Storms like this are nature’s epiphanies, its big neurons flickering to make a black sea imaginable to itself for the briefest possible time.

Run

Across the beach at low tide. Wet trainers on shining sand. Around the back of the island, sharing the view where people block the path. Catching breath against the granite when cars inch by. Past the bowling green, onto the coast path. Over rubble, up hills. Round the headland, into a new bay. Uphill to the boulders, clambering with fingers and toes. Just sitting on the rock, watching thoughts and the boat halfway between the lighthouse and this weathered, lichened rock and me.