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Published: September 8th 2019
Shetland – August 19
I have to be honest with myself and admit that a small percentage of why I have returned is because he is here. We return for people or a person and place. Lerwick
After arriving, I did not want him to leave but he is not and will never be any real part of my life although he is a real part that has just buried itself deep inside my rib cage, like a stone, so that when I exhale, after he has gone, the breath will not fully leave me. I cannot quite breathe. Nesbister
As I sit on the doorstep of Nesbister Bod (an old fishing bod built in 1844, grandly resting on a pebble peninsular and surrounded by sea on 3 sides) I feel a deep calmness from a place so entirely isolated that the moment of calm slowly arrives within my core. Calmness gently saturates me from landscape, sea and isolation. On arrival, I did not feel a great rush of excitement as the others did although, it (this place) is exciting.
I’ve been here before but never to this place.
the others in the Bod speak French. I understand nothing and I enjoy the position of ‘outsider’. It is as if I cannot hear them and this is a place that I feel comfortable.
But a stone is in my ribs. I feel it and tonight, he is the core of it. Let it go …… Nesbister Bod 2019, August 18th. Monday 19th.
The stone did not stay in place stuck between my ribs. In the morning, I found that sometime during the night, it had dislodged itself and rolled away. There was no hint that there had ever been a stone at all.
Outside, I find a new day and a moment of anxiety about my future.
Good or bad choices? Simple or complex thoughts and sometimes no thoughts at all. 20 years ago, a boy said to me that he wanted to live a simple life with complex thoughts and feelings. At the still point of the turning earth on this rock, where an old isolated stone fishing bod stands, I feel, at the age of 56, that there is no such possibility to live
simply with complex thought and feelings – they cannot reside alongside each other. Alongside complex thoughts and feelings, there can be no absolute simplicity. Listen
If you placed me in a room with headphones and 10 recordings of the sound of surroundings of the sea butting up to the land, I would be able to pick out this sound that I hear now above all others as Shetland. The gently lapping tide coming in over the sound of pebbles. I can hear the size of pebbles heavy with age and to the other tuning of my listening, I can hear the sound of a more urgent faster tide hitting rocks meaning that there are two different types of land and wave hitting different parts of the same spot which could be a tombola or a peninsula. I have figured this out by lengthy listening to the details and seeing where those sounds come from. There is also the constant sound of bird call, not singing, maybe 4 or 5 different types and above all of these, I hear the baby seagull crying and crying. If I knew the songs of birds well enough, I would be
able to time the sound to a time in a yearly cycle when large seagull chicks are pestering parents for food. If I close my eyes, I can imagine the scene and thus know for sure that the recording would be above all – Shetland because I have tuned into the sound of the approaching sea on many a Shetland beach. On top of that, you can almost hear the weight of the mist creeping over the hill and boggy grassland, rolling in, crushing turf, approaching with the weight of sky water. But there are no other sounds. Not one.
It is damp and cool. Patience.
What I have almost remembered is to be patient. If the moment is anxious through uncertainty, do not act immediately. Wait. The moment will pass and something other will reveal itself. A new path, a new way – maybe also not certain – but what is certain? We have the one life and it is ours to experience. Bod
Outside the Bod, in an old chair, sitting in the damp, I am back again, ready. Breathing in and out for this great earth that I
feel 60 degrees North.
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