Yesterday Julian went out in search of poppies and I had something I never get (and, of course, which he gets far too much of) – time on my own at home. I felt a freedom I feel too rarely. Even though I did the usual things – run, meditate, have coffee in the vines, write, wash up – I was aware that there was not a chunk of my mind that was running after someone else’s needs; trying to guess at their feelings; following them.
This-morning I went out for a walk just after the rain. Poppies nodded their luminous heads in greeting, a raindrop fell down my cleavage and cooled it, sunlight filtered through young oak leaves and embraced me with its gentle fingers, an amethyst butterfly landed on my shin, my feet crunched on wild-meadow and wet sand and the broome filled the air with a sweet holiday scent. What was I following and where was I leading? Footsteps, breath, the path….
Alone and connected. More and more space. Perfect.
Like most people I imagine, I am a complex mixture of leader and follower. As a cellist I started out as a follower but have become increasingly comfortable ‘leading’. However, I realise by leading I do not even mean following my own voice but rather aspiring to be a channel not clogged by fear or desire, and so thus leading and following become the same.
John Bayley, in his moving book about his wife, Iris Murdoch, says that marriage to them was ‘growing closer and closer apart’.
Walking together but neither leading nor following, perhaps?.
Julian and I have days like this sometimes. I write downstairs and he paints upstairs, and at the end of the day we come together fulfilled. Sometimes we talk about the landscape in which we have been wandering, sometimes not. We do not need anything from each-other. These are perfect days,
(Oh, and by the way, does anyone know a bloke who doesn’t walk ahead at least seven paces whilst trying to hold a conversation?!)