Glorious Descent

Glorious Descent
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 40cm

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Flying with the Fox

This evening as I was swimming laps in the pool, I looked up as I usually do, to check the time on the large clock. I realised I needed to swim for 5 more minutes so as to reach my usual 40 minute target. Then I thought, 'Just as well, it's getting late and I had better get home for dinner'. I tumbled at the end of the lap and continued on the home stretch. I was swimming well today, my body relaxing into a soothing rhythm and I felt I could have kept going for another half an hour. Why then was there this urgency to 'get home before dark'?

The overcast weather combined with the dinner hour meant there were no children about. The pool, though quite full with adults, was focused and meditative. You could almost hear the gentle hum of thoughts being shared beneath the surface. I emerged from the water and wrapped a towel around my shoulders, relishing in the comfort. 'Best get dry and change', my maternal voice instructed as I looked at the clock again. Instead I sat down.

I thought about how a friend had said she needed routines and rituals to function, without them she was lost. From this I tried to distinguish what may be the difference between the two, for whilst I am happily stabilised by routine I can recognise rituals in my life that are far more rewarding, yet are equally as measured. Yoga is something I do regularly, I practice familiar poses, yet my focus and meditation is often unique to each class. Similarly I shop regularly, I must eat after all, but I savour the experience of entering the chinese food market as if it were a glistening jewellery store. I let myself be attracted to seasonal fruit and get excited in the aromatic herb aisle. These I consider rituals, very much structured like a routine, though fulfilled with an intent and awareness of something sacred. This being the superior colour of produce or observing the weightlessness of the body in water, it can be something much more rewarding.

Not so long ago I would have watched sceptically as swimmers followed the black line up and down the pool, judging their behaviour according to an obsessive compulsive trait, rather than a ritual. What a boring routine ! However now, as I gravitate to the water for relaxation and experience my thoughts and health improve, I realise the confines of the lanes allow for something special.

Routines need to be broken too though. The freedom of abandoning the expected and the structure is of equal importance, otherwise these systems dominate and the lustre of the practice diminishes.

With this in mind, I head to the park - again, the lack of children in school holiday time is astounding ! I feel like the rebellious adult taking over the swings and the slide, but most importantly I have the chance to test out the flying fox ! I have enviously been watching children play on it for months, through the bus window as I pass. And now it is my turn. The routine of time, dinner, weather is all out the window - I must play !

Taking in wind I glide fast, faster then terrifyingly fast down the cable- It is wonderful ! Next, i am jumping from heights and performing 'run ups' to increase my speed. Again and again I glide down the fox. I hear myself say 'one more go' and joyously I respond 'No !' The mind can so easily make an oppressive routine of life. One of this, only 10 minutes of that, oh the structure is stifling ! Squealing as I nearly flip the swing - I realise I must appear the psychotic playground weirdo.

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