Calm After the Storm

Storm Eunice; 2022

Do you do To Do lists? Or do you just Do?

It’s so nurturing to live in the country, constantly present with nature. I am regularly reminded that nature just “does” without having to “to do”. Daffodils push up through the earth during driving late-winter rain, without the need to prepare a spreadsheet of tasks prior to bursting yellow. Sheep huddle stoically in their field during the storm, without any last minute panic buying of fleece. No conscious forward planning, just being. What a relief that must be.

I’ve written about this before, the constant attack on our minds of what we need to do and by when. Of course being active is enjoyable and engaging in life is kind of the point of life, but the rate at which we engage and push ourselves is entirely up to us. It’s taken me many years to exhale and find peace in stillness. I’m still learning. Aren’t we all?

Living through two hugely destructive storms in the UK have taught me how to truly switch off and lean into peace, although not immediately! Do you remember the Beast From The East, March 2018? Sudden snow drifts and cars abandoned half way up hills because we didn’t really believe it would be that bad. I remember sitting in my one bedroom flat in Frome, watching the snow build up around the windows and across the front door, ice layering the inside of single-pane windows. I was alone, yet so incredibly calm. Forced indoors, no expectation To Do. Just Be.

Likewise after Storm Eunice calmed down and we were safe I found peace in the power outage. No buzz of electrical currents pulsing around and through me, no laptop to distract, no Netflix to consume or life admin to actively avoid. Just a slow-burning fire, a mild-whistling kettle and my thoughts and dreams. No expectation To Do. Just Be.

Would I get bored if it were all the time? Possibly. But possibly not. I’m coming to terms with my life here, now, in this space, and recognising the peacefulness and creativity that could naturally grow here if I can just let go of the subtle gnawing anxiety that I need to always “be producing output”. Living alongside fields I can switch into a peaceful inner space more quickly than in a city. A few weeks ago I journaled about how nobody else really cares if I “produce output”, that my inner world is my world and if it’s chaos, it’s my chaos. If it’s calm, it’s my calm.

“as I exhale and realise, as if for the first time, how all my life I’ve crammed myself into boxes; into spaces too tiny for all that I want to experience; made me shorter, smaller, faster, more hurried and therefore more harried and anxious. I’ve sped up to keep up, at times enjoying the speed and the chaos. Perhaps because it mirrored my internal chaos. It fit. Now, however, as I sit in this warm, quiet room enjoying how winter trees are leafless yet golden by the sun, I feel a change in me internal; an appreciation and connection with peace; not craving chaos; not needing it. Put less on the to-do list.” – Journal 04/02/2022

This all requires trust: trust that I can allow myself to let life come to me; trust that it will still be active; trust that I wont feel like I’ve gotten old too soon in the village; trust that I can let go of the city-me who needed multiple doses of external goings-on; trust that my gentleness and peace will still reach out and naturally connect with others; trust that I am enough.

Engage in less more fully, rather than fracturing my mind on many things.

As Storm Eunice battered us, I spent part of it curled up on my sofa, watching it slam its way against the trees. When hail began I could see the patterns of the wind, thrashing nonsensically. Suddenly, I noticed a piece of hail caught in a spiderweb in the external corner of my windowsill. It was bouncing about manically, as the wind whipped through the spiderweb. The hail was holding on very tightly, given the fact that it’s water. Eventually the hail melted and the spiderweb remained.

So, we can relax into the now, be light and somewhat thoughtless in how we capture life in our web. Gentleness is a survival skill which doesn’t require pushing and shoving and forcing life, extensive to-do lists and a never-ending sense that we are never enough. Remove the expectation To Do. Just Be.

You are enough.

Beast From the East; 2018