Duddon Estuary

The clouds dispersed to reveal the estuary

domed with blue.

A cold north wind blowing

but in the shelter of a hedge

the sun felt warm, springlike

with birdsong

and the first frogspawn in a ditch.

The rising, full moon high tide paused

at the outer edge of the saltmarshes

where the birds gathered;

curlew, oystercatcher, redshank.

Then the sea quietly,

relentlessly, marched on over the marshes

scattering birds, forming islands of green

that gradually disappeared underwater.

A stream of sea pushed in past our feet

to the railway embankment

signalling the time to leave

this inbetween place

to the sea and sky

and the birds.

Stillness in movement

Can you find the stillness in movement?

Not by searching, but by the experience

Of becoming aware of your body

As you move through this world.

Not by trying, but by doing.

Progress through space,

Present within your body,

Aware of what is inside, and what is outside

And then do nothing but the movement;

Hiking, running, tai chi, yoga,

Or simply strolling leisurely through your day,

Washing the dishes, cleaning the house,

Even, perhaps, tapping at a keyboard.

At home within yourself.

Not striving, not searching,

Not analysing, not judging,

Not doing.

Just moving

Until you sense the stillness within.

Counting birds

These graphs tell a story

A ski slope line runs from the year I was born,

Downhill to today.

A precipitous decline

In numbers

Or visualise it another way.

A gullimot fledgling’s daring plunge from the cliff,

The rapid whistling descent of a displaying snipe

The airborne dive of the gannet,

The mournful cry of a lone curlew.

The echoing silence of once busy seabird cliffs,

Fields full of crops, but empty of birds,

These graphs tell a story

But the story isn’t finished

How it ends is up to us.

Starbathing

A glimpse, from the window, of stars.

The great bear, or saucepan,

Tracing a line to the north.

After that, I had to go out.

Grabbed my coat,

Turned my face upwards,

Greeted familiar landmarks in the sky.

It’s so easy in winter 

To come home from work in the dark,

Spend the evening indoors,

Miss the simple wonder outside

Of a ceiling of stars.

The owls were quiet tonight

As I stood

Starbathing.

Tension and relaxation

Tension is who you think you should be,

Relaxation is who you are.

So they say, and I would agree

And I have practiced being relaxed, and gone deep in that practice.

And yet….

And yet….

Despite knowing, in my body, in my mind

How good relaxation feels,

In my daily life tension still wins.

At work, behind a computer,

Trying to get things done, getting irritated by the little things,

Or worrying, or wondering why it’s just not all done better, or quicker.

My muscles tighten as my mind tightens.

This is the real me in so many moments of my life,

The me with tension.

And to relax requires an effort of will, a decision, a choice.

It’s a choice I fail to make, over and over again.

I’ve just come back from tai chi class

And I feel great

The feeling will carry over into tomorrow

Then it will gradually dissolve back into tension and forgetfulness

Using too much effort, and trying too hard.

One of these days I’ll make a different choice. 

Until then, tension is who I am, relaxation is who I am not allowing myself to be.

Sometimes I wonder, as I practice tai chi, 

Just why I keep going,

What I’m achieving

It is me, coming back to the choice between tension and relaxation.

Learning to choose relaxation in each moment,

So that one day I will truly be able to say

That relaxation is who I am.

Dreaming of flying

Running along the ground

Then uphill, through the air, 

As if climbing an invisible flight of steps,

And then I am flying.

Soaring above buildings, trees,

Free.

Feeling the sensation in my whole body.

I wake, exhilarated.

I’ve had this dream only a handful of times in my life,

Always vivid,

Always when I’m on the brink of an adventure.

I think it’s time

To have it again.