This week, on an animal sanctuary in Southern Spain, I am surrounded by rock, and the nude, bare earth echoes the inner emptiness I feel. In England, all that green and growing doesn't match my insides. Here, this rock, this heat, this rugged blend of pine and desert wildflower, poking up from parched earth, speaks to my spirit. Here, amongst this rock, my heart feels at ease.
I awaken at early light and walk the dirt path to the pig run, and enter their space. Carmella comes to smell and nudge me with her snout, and I place my hand upon her coarse, bristled skin. I sit in the dirt and wait for her to realise that I will not hurt her, and, after a few moments, she lies down next to me. I stretch my legs around her so that I can rub her belly, and she rolls on her side so that I can get a better reach. She grunts her pleasure and closes her eyes. I breathe deep. I slow my breathing to match hers, in rhythm and depth, and I rub her until she's had enough, awakens from her brief slumber, and rises, moving on toward the back of the pen. Our encounter is a healing balm for us both.Read more
It is almost Christmas, and I have spent most of the last ten days on my own, in silence. At times, I have thought that I should make an effort to visit with people, make connections, socialise. I just don’t seem to handle it well. Even a short trip to the shops on the High Street brings me to tears—couples hand in hand, brightly coloured lights, fresh trees for sale, Santas in the windows, ribbons and bows, carols blasting through the speakers—all this celebration and excess is out of sync with the way I feel, inside. I am awkward around people. I don’t know how to act. What do I say? What greetings do I employ? Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays? I don’t even want to think about the New Year. I want to crawl under the covers until it is all finished.
The one time my world makes sense, these days, is when I walk, alone, into the hills. I set my boots onto a muddy path, my face exposed to the biting wind, and watch my breath stream in and out. I hear birds rustle in the trees above me. I see rabbits hop into the underbrush. I take note of the droplets of water, hanging, like tears, on naked branches. I feel the rain, sleet and snow pelt against my skin. I put one foot in front of the other. I don’t have to worry, or plan, or think. I only walk, and breathe. When I am outside, among the elements, it feels that perhaps I do have a place on the planet. I find a sliver of hope that, perhaps, one day, I will heal.Read more