We started in glorious June sunshine and travelled back ten thousand years.
Not literally, of course; I have not invented the time machine yet – but we visited an English Heritage site dating back to Neolithic times.
One of my "intentions" is to spend more time with my husband as a couple. After twenty years together and with two teenage daughters, it's all too easy to slip into the relationship of congenial housemates who share a bed, but not the most intimate thoughts, hopes and dreams of the other. Our girls laugh at Mummy and Daddy going on a "date" but they also think it's rather sweet.
So, we climbed down this Neolithic flint mine; down a prosaic modern ladder, our feet clanging against steel rungs; the sound swallowed by dead dust of chalk walls.
At the bottom, room to stand; to walk around; to crouch down and peer into the crawl spaces through which our ancestors tunnelled, molelike, to prise out from the soft chalk, with antler picks, the smooth slabs of hearthstone flint. From that flint they chipped out axes and knives, scrapers and the heads for arrows with which they hunted game. Flint was their life.
Now we tasted history with the flat greyness of chalk dust in our mouths and the smell of underground and the chill of exactly four degrees centigrade.
Arising back out into warmth, into the golden benevolence of the sun, was like being reborn. The air was full to bursting with the song of larks: their sound a cornucopia of dazzling gems, pouring down to splash into the percussive vibrato of crickets, busy in the long rattling stems of grass.
We stood, on one of the many mine-mounds in this hundred-acre site, and just – stood. The sun; the sounds; the scents; the myriad shades of blue in the sky; the green and gold and bronze and grey in the grass; the dark pine forest beyond; the feel of our hands clasped with love between us.
It was a moment.
Mindfulness is a thing more talked about than experienced – at least in my experience. But I think, last Friday, I came close. Sometimes people refer to being "in the zone." I think it means being so all-absorbed in something there is no room for self.
While I was down in that flint mine, opening myself up to history; while I was out on that mound in the sunshine, the sensations were so all-encompassing there was no room for self. There was no room for worrying about how my daughter's GCSE exam was going, or how I was going to get my newsletter out on time and put together a marketing strategy, or what I was going to say to that friend who has had her feelings hurt by another friend...
We cannot escape our problems; they need to be considered and resolved; but we can and should replace our impotent worries with the wonder of just – being in the moment.
For those who are interested, the mine can be found in Norfolk and is owned by English Heritage. http://bit.ly/2M6tGbj
And – just because – The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. http://bit.ly/2yr2guO
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