Twenty five years ago, possibly a few years more, my younger brother’s best mate visited us here in Wales. My younger brother died at 21 in a car accident. Myself, my wife Angie and my brother’s friend were reminiscing about him outside at end of day. A clear sky showed us a multitude of stars. More than a fair few present and witnessed by the naked eye despite the lights’ contamination from the village.
The friend said, ‘He’s probably watching over us right now’, and pointed to the sky. We looked up and a shooting star stroked the sky’s black background. We were speechless.
This above story? Well. Yesterday I mentioned a quote from a book recently read. ‘Enchantment’ by Katherine May. About the impact of modern life’s fast paced technology. This book has an insightful energy that is quite profound. Four separate themes of Earth, Water, Fire and Air have her personal views regarding how the recent pandemic and the onslaught of modern fast paced life has overwhelmed her. The Earth’s elements links bring her reflections and dreams and hopes for rebalance. Links to those elements from past and future considerations. For example Water and ocean swimming. If it sounds like heavy reading. It definitely is not.
Why I told that first star incident? She speaks of stars. Of comets. Her need to see a sky with no lights contaminating the visual splendour. Of travelling hours to get to a place which is perfect to witness such a presentation. ‘This is exactly where I want to be: watching the skies for a glimpse of star fall’.
It speaks of losing our way within the quagmire of modern life. Of the impact of how the pandemic enforced isolation and limitations. A change to her normality life. Normality in finding ‘grounding’ by having her feet planted on to the earth in meditation practice, her swimming in the ocean, to reading. And more. Dreams about a wish for bee keeping, of star gazing, of connecting back to nature. Finding answers to the ridding of a fogged mind and burnout. The base of the book is not about providing answers for us. No Guru message of how to self help. It is about what she herself wants to get back to. A world that can still proffer a re-birth for herself from her past reflections and future needs from what the Earth offers. Still offers. In both hidden corners and open spaces. And by providing these insights she taps at our own conscious and subconscious thoughts. Her writing style is of a poetic and prose like nature. Astounding vocabulary with poignant meaning in one or two sentences. She is an extraordinary writer. It gives the reading experience page turning status.
After both working in my nurse role and living the pandemic experience as we all did, I found an essential retirement focus. The main photograph shows alongside the book some central heating copper pipe brackets! Balance you see. Doing things. Throw myself into ‘doing’. Just do, think DIY and gardening stuff and keep active. Jobs needed doing at an enormous level in home and garden. It stopped the recent past negative thinking processes I suppose. Also throw writing into the equation with a blog and new found interest in purchasing more fountain pens. I had burnout, but of a weird mental intrusion. I wasn’t physically tired. But my brain hurt from reflecting nonetheless. Negativity had to change to positivity. And the results seen in a ‘new, freshly painted room that provided wonderful comforts’ was indeed of positive nature.
On reading Enchantment, I found myself mesmerised that I had both experienced and also desired some of her own experiences and hoped for dreams. Getting back to finding balance, quiet spots, a cleaner and more inquisitive, but gentle, mindset. I haven’t read much since retiring. All fiction has left me dissatisfied. Probably do not want that type of theme anymore. My four reads since giving up the working role as a staff nurse have been spiritually connected in strange avenues of thought provoking nature. ‘Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’ by John Koenig re: reflections on strange and quirky episodes you experience in life and of which there are no singular words for. ‘The Journey. Big Panda and Tiny Dragon’ by James Norbury re: everything you think you require exists already in the ‘everyday’ and is already inside you. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling re: a need to escape into a land which was already familiar after a fair few revisit reads. No surprises on the next page.
That last read, Harry Potter, was really the nail on the head. Katherine May, in her first pages, writes of losing the desire to read. Myself? Since retiring and putting down the last of a plethora of textbooks about medical investigations, I have read the few mentioned above. So an extraordinary small amount. Then, I realised. It is about fear. Fear of the unknown. Fiction, when turning the pages, brings about anticipation. Not dread. But a trickling of small fears, butterfly flutters and unwished for outcomes. In well written books especially. I have started to read and stopped a few chapters in. Discomfort brings about a wandering mind in need for escape.
Before the Covid experience I could still pick up books between the technical reads. Not as many as I used to before nurse training. But at least they got to be read in full. Covid has provided a new mindset. Yes. Fear probably. And it is a difficult one to shake loose from.
Drowning in anticipation over the last few years? Who wants to add to it by reading books that bring the unknown too. Albeit in a fictional sense? In Enchantment, recognising why the anxieties, burnout and lethargy exist, by simply nodding your head in agreement, is comforting. The other books I picked up and began to read felt wrong. Also, as said, the mind wandered. I was probably also mind searching for self peace after the enormity of experiencing the nurse role and the pandemic impact. Maybe a need to find answers closer to spiritual harmony. Yet I do not read ‘self help books’. Never wanted to. Reflective practice writing in nursing was enough of an intrusion. Reminded oneself of what you are doing wrong. And what is going wrong around you.
‘Enchantment’, as a read is different. It allows you to take your own dreams and seek to getting back to basics. To what the Earth can offer. I don’t want to change ‘me’. I want the Earth to give itself back to me. Simply by myself allowing it to. The Earth hasn’t changed in its abilities to give sustenances. We all lost something in the pandemic and sometimes we do find we have to find answers to get spiritual balance again from deep within ourselves.