You can never be lonely (with a worm)
I remember years ago, I went for a walk with an old friend.
We met somewhere beautiful.
But I don’t remember much because I was so consumed by the story I was telling him. I remember the story, of heart ache, loneliness. The usual. I remember I went on and on.
Occasionally he would point to a tree, or flower. I would feel irritated at the fact that my story of woe was not consuming him in the way it was me.
At one point, he stopped and pointed to all the stones on the floor and tried to get me to notice how many there were, how many options and choices I had. God it was irritating. Why didn’t he want to play ‘poor me’ with me?
Three hours the poor man walked and listened and I drove home feeling really pissed off that he hadn’t sorted out my life for me.
Sorry Gordon, you tried so hard.
I get it now because I have been Gordon in my own way.
I have walked with people who miss the flowers and the birds and the trees because they are so intent on their story of their experience.
By ‘story’ I don’t mean that it isn’t ‘true’, I just mean that it is something we have constructed from our experience, which then becomes something solid. I know when I get stuck in a story, I can repeat it verbatim, and have a tendency to do so interminably, which is a clue that I am story telling.
What Gordon (who my kids called Gandalf…and they were right in more ways than one) was trying to do, was bring me in to the moment.
Into the moment with him.
With the stones on the road and the trees in the field.
I don’t remember a single thing he said, or what he was wearing, or where we went. I was so locked in the story of how tragic my life was, that I missed the moment. I talked at Gordon not with him.
So today, when I stopped on my walk to watch a worm cross the road it made me smile at my younger self, because my story was so isolating back then, that in that walk, I made myself lonely.
It is almost impossible to feel lonely if you pay attention to the moment, for the world is full of birds and cars, and stones and today mud and puddles, and they may not be company, but the world sure isn’t empty.
It has been years since I squatted on my haunches to watch a worm and do you know what, it was amazing to it it again today. The worm was making decisions about which way to go. It would lift up its head and kind of sniff and then pull it back into another direction and set off that way. Its head stretched out and became pointy, reaching out and sensing its way, and then its muscles would contract as it pulled forward. So sentient. So clearly making decisions about the route it wanted to take.
We don’t need to go to Africa to see nature. We don’t have to be with people to find company.
Gordon was right. Be here. Be now. Step out of the story and into the world.
Thank you Gordon Law. You taught me well…I got there eventually.
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