Things of Astonishment

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Sometimes, when you've been inside too many days in a row, venturing out is a walking into astonishment.  Today at Birdsland I walked past the barbecue area, over the little bridge and alongside the cow paddock.  It's always very pleasing to me to see this paddock.  It is gently but highly rounded and accompanied by a half moon hayshed, and at this time of year the grass is getting wildly green again.  The paddock is backdropped in the near distance by many trees with green hues ranging from mid green to olive.

Today, the haziness of the air showed up against the tree backdrop.  I stopped, because my watch was beeping.  It told me that from the car to the paddock I'd already gone over my allotted heart rate limit.  I've taken this limit as my marker.  It was set by some CFS researchers who found that keeping under this rate is a handy thing to do if you wish to exercise without too much payback.  That the heart rate limit is a pitifully small 105 is particularly frustrating and slightly embarrassing, but I wish to exercise in a way that has the least amount of effect tomorrow and the day after and the day after as possible.

I gazed at the paddock and as I looked, over the top of the hill came a badling of ducks.  To describe a group of ducks as a badling seems a bad thing but apparently it's a thing.  These ducks are usually found on and around the lake that begins a little further up ahead on my walk, but today as I watched they spilled over the hill, about 30 of them, pecking at stuff hidden in the grass that was gently idling in the warm April sun.  To see them pour over the hill is really not so much of a big deal, but then when you are in a certain space it feels like a thing of astonishment.

I only walked up to the big bridge and back.  I'm trying to live within limitations so I can expand those limitations, even though sometimes I feel like taking methamphetamine and going clubbing.  But today it was the bridge and back, and I focused on not feeling hard done by but instead on feeling grateful that I was out having this walk at all.

The water ran under the bridge and pulsed over the rocks on its journey.  I leant and gazed into the water and the sun ripples glittered into my eyes in a most pleasing fashion and it felt like a thing of astonishment, the way this most beautiful world that we are a part of works.

On the way back, I was almost astonished at the two people who said hello to me.   So many of the people I saw felt like me - smothered under a layer of generalised anxiety caused by a disordered world.  I could feel it.  In that space, everything is The Other, even yourself.  When I am feeling less misanthropic than I confess I was today, I would take the opportunity to originate the hello to more than the two people that I did, and from whom I received no response in return.  I wish I wasn't so sensitive, that someone not returning a hello that they might have not even heard, let's be honest, did not hurt, but I confess that it does.
That's why I liked standing and staring at the three cows that were down near the paddock fence.  Animals just are.  And seriously, those big black cows look like enormous dogs.  Everything looks bloody well astonishing.  All of this variety of life.  It's just so truly beautiful and nothing says duality like feeling like a misanthrope while at the very same time feeling at one with the world, but hey, it's a fucking mess at the crumbly end of this version of civilisation.  But now I think about it, perhaps it says nonduality more than duality.  Perhaps the negative and the positive all fit in the same boat, all together in a messy wet blob.  I don't know.  This is why I go walking, to help ease the strain of thinking so hard about all of this stuff.

Not that there's anything wrong with thinking.  I think it's quite an under-appreciated habit, to be quite honest with you.  It's just the degree to which you think.  When you can feel steam escaping out the top of your head, you know it's time to go for a walk. 
If you can.  And when you can it is a most common, everyday dinnerset, tracky dacks kind of astonishment.

I stood, my watch beeping, and stared at the cows, the gentle autumn sun fondling their backs, and a man and his four children walked towards me and they smelled fresh.  The children had animation in their eyes.  The little boy looked at me with that twisted kind of mouth that says "I refuse to smile at you even though part of my body wishes to disobey."  The man said hello.  They felt like a switched on family.  That felt very nice to me.  When the man said hello he looked in my eyes and his relaxation and positive switched onedness flew across the path and into my head.  How very astonishing.

After they walked past one of the little kids said, "Daddy, what's that ... the thing ... that thing?" and the daddy answered, "I don't know."

Back at the little bridge just before the barbecue area, the creek was holding up some fuzzy green water moss on its surface.  The moss looked like it totally belonged there, even though there are a million different combinations of moss that feasibly could be there instead.  So many options, variable, possibilities.  And there's really something a little astonishing about that.


  1. Gorgeous, my friend.

    You know, a whole lot of people for a whole lotta years have believed that communing with nature is a spiritual experience. I have to agree.

    I am sorry about your frustration, though.

  2. And I so agree. This is more than enough to commune with :-)

  3. Today I ran out of Things To Do and panic started to ensue (to deal with that later) so I went outside and did some weeding. Now better. I traumatized an ant city, which I felt bad about, but I think they'll be ok. Thanks for this reminder to choose to be astonished.

  4. Weeding. Wot's dat?

    It is so good for you, digging your hands in the soil, freaking out an ant city. I like how you felt bad about that, not because you felt bad but because you don't like being Nasty Ant God

  5. What watch do you use? I knew I was going to find good things here.

    I need something that will monitor my heart rate continuously, and beep when I go over 93 (yup - that low), so I can slowly build up again.

    I've recently figured out how to strengthen my back muscles, and that they needed it. I'm hoping against the past 8 years that I can work up to real walking again. It IS hard when you have problems walking AND CFS.


    1. Hi Alicia,

      It's a Polar FT1 heart rate monitor which has the band you wear around your waist (which I forget I have on after a while). Around $60 from memory. It's really helped as I've been surprised how variable it is and that it can go 30bpm over the maximum really quickly.

      Funny, you don't always think that back muscles would come into play, but of course they would! I've been practising the Buteyko breathing technique lately and so have been reintroduced to my diaphragm muscles. Man, the spasming!

      I hope that you can build up too. Though it can be disheartening having to stop so often to stay under the limit, the heart rate monitor gives much-needed sense of control. Much easier to stsy within the boundaries when you know what the hell they are!


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