6 December 2011

Solitude but no Silence

Monday 5 December 2011

Wind has whipped and beaten my tent for 3 days non-stop. The constant wild flapping and noise has whipped up my mind state, or mirrored it perhaps. It has made this a different retreat, not calm and quiet, not conducive of meditation.

The elements have won.

The beach at Pondilowie Bay is windy but quieter.

The track over the sand dunes towards the beach is fresh with little animal prints this morning. I love trying to decipher the foot symbols in the sand: there are lots of different bird tracks, small lizard tracks, one that is probably a big stumpy lizard - a long slithery track with little footprints either side.

Halfway to the beach I notice giant emu footprints along the sandy track, they weren't there yesterday.Looking intently down,
I follow them a short way, curious to see where the emu may have roamed during the night. I jump in fright when the startled giant bird flaps and bounds haphazardly across the path right in front of me. I stop and collect myself. He settles a short distance away and begins munching on a bush.

Emus are like dinosaur birds. They're uniquely Australian, gigantic in size (for a bird), georgeously ungamely, awkwardly graceful, and very shy.
It must be frustrating to be a bird with wings, unable to fly.

They're shy creatures, but aggressive when they want food.

I was chased by an emu a couple of years ago. I was in a campsite in the Flinders Ranges, walking to the toilets, the emu thought I had food and it poked at me. Emus have intense wild eyes and big beaks, it scared me so I ran, then it chased me, bounding after me down the path, all the way to the toilets. How funny that must have looked.

On the other side of the sand dunes, the beach is deserted and pristine clean today, the water clear pure aqua near the shore, mysteriously changing to a deep dark blue not far in.

I wander along the tide line. There are bird prints and a set of human footprints...female. How do I know that...perhaps it's the elegant shape. A woman has walked here in the early hours, probably from the big campsite further south.

Its on this walk that I find a little treasure - an unusual shell, shaped like a ball with a small hole at top and bottom, coloured with gray and purple stripes. It looks like a giant berry. It comes home with me.

"I tied a berry to a thread..." (Wandering Aengus)

Back inside my tent late morning, the wind is still beating the tent to death but the tent base is steadfast.

The battle betwen the wind and the tent has worn me out. Massive sudden flaps woke me out of deep sleep too often last night. The continual noise is just plain annoying now.

My mind is agitated.

I've had 2 days of solitude, but not silence.

I pack up and head for home a few hours early, looking forwad to the quiet 4 hour drive and respite from the thrashing, pulling, pushing, shoving, flapping of the wind on the tent.

Every retreat is different.

Some excerpts I read today from 'The Grace in Dying' (for a second time)
by Kathleen Dowling Singh :

We are, all of us, ordinary people. Liberation begins when we know that.

There is a deep wisdom in the practie of ordinariness. We are not speaking here of false or unhealthy humility; we are not speaking of low self-esteem. We are speaking of humility of a most profound and healthy order; the humility inherent in the recognition of our ordinariness.

The stance of humility, the full and deliberate living of the life of an ordinary human being, engenders a spirit of true renunciation.

The renunciation is of the inessential. The joy is in the essential.

Powerful transformation can be engendered by the stance of humility. With the dismantling of the need for self-importance, with the acceptance of our ordinariness, we can see, in the words of Robert Ornstein taken from another context:

"the emergence of the stars brought about by the setting of the sun".

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