I write this from my desk where I watch swallows arc. Blue-tits teeter on the telephone lines. Today’s clouds are heavy and low, a smudged sky of dust and cotton. Through the window is our shared garden, lined by tall Scots pines, and backed by a corrugated-iron transport garage. Beyond this, and the fumes and the rattle, where the sand sinks as high-tide sighs over shells and pebbles, is the sea.
I have been here, at this window – working, writing, thinking, dreaming – for eight months. At night when the chill seeps through the glass I tug my blanket around me. On days where the water and sky are bright and blinding, I squint and pull down the shade. On these days, I think that the life I have lived and suffered with before is unimaginable. As though I have always been here, content, thankful, and a little spellbound.
Of course, I don’t always want to walk. Usually I can see past the rust-edged hulk of the garage to the glimmer and lure of the waves, but not today. I am focusing on flaws, on negatives, and not on wonder. I feel drained, unusually defeated. Is it the past, the trauma, which taints me, or merely the lethargy of an occasional off-day?
On an off-day, I want only to cocoon and to muffle myself from past traumas, from present worries, or from future, as yet unknown, fears. Being in the wind and bite of rain is too real and I linger inside. I long to hide from the world and mute my own thoughts.
I pick up a sandstone pebble I use as a paperweight and turn it in my palm. It is ribboned with dirt and glitter, with silt and quartz; it has shadows and yet it gleams. It is washed smooth and rounded and holds lost stories of hundreds of millions of years. I seek out these stones from time to time as I wander. I turn over the shingle, digging out prizes before discarding those that I deem less perfect, leaving them to fall back onto the sand.
There is no perfect pebble, or perfect day. No better past, no desired future. My own story is one of layers of dirt and glitter, and much of it weighs me down. Walking here, along the shoreline or in green spaces listening to birdsong in trees, lifts me and heals me and returns the shine to my edges, and so I do this again and again.
I can see the sea now in the last pastel tones of the day. The sun has slipped somewhere beyond the clouds. Branches stir in the breeze. Seagulls swoop. It’s time to drag myself from my desk and feel the air on my skin and the sand beneath my feet. To breathe the sharp, salt air and perhaps find more pebbles with stories.
To continue to heal.