Wanderer

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From an early age I visualized life as a path.  Why would that be?  It implies that everything is set out for me and I have only to walk along the prescribed route….  And yet, there have been crossroads, roads taken, others left unexplored.  Today I look at that thought: life is a path, and see that path dwindling, a narrow track leading into a bog, and eventually disappearing.

Sixty nine sun circlings have I seen

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Today I think, this is the first time I have not welcomed a birthday. But is it not better than having no birthday, not being here to feel fear of aging?  I think about the promising young man, damaged in an accident, who will not live the life he believed would be his.  I sorrow for the young woman who may not live to see her small children grow to independence.  The best, the only, service I can do for these and others is to rejoice in the fact of my existence.  I am here, still competent to see blossoms on trees, feel sun or  rain upon my skin, observe wasps amongst the raspberries, a dragonfly flitting, fleet as my life.  I am still here to watch starlings on the lawn or listen to the cry of seabirds riding in the ocean of air.  I am still here to smell fresh earth as life awakens in springtime, and the fragrance of lilacs or lilies.  This gesture to appreciate the life I have been blessed with is perhaps the only gift that I can bring to this world; a profound sense of gratitude that I am here, in this place, at this time, out of all the universe, a fragile moment carved out of eternity.

“How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”

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How lucky I am to live where I do.  Even in this urban setting there are places and moments where a wider world breaks into my consciousness.  Walking beside Dartmouth Cove one day I heard small waves lapping against stones and that gentle sound seemed to still other noises.  I became aware of dry grass beneath my feet, frozen ground, birds on the water and in the sky.   I wondered whether other creatures are, like us, focussed only on their own immediate needs, the desires of the self.  Or are they like William Blake’s bird, “an immense world of delight clos’d by … senses five”?  An animal knows nothing of Mozart or Michaelangelo.  What cares she for Austen or Shakespeare, Copernicus or Curie?  Yet perhaps she is forever finely  tuned to rhythms, colours, seasons which great human minds harvest and weave into wonders for the rest of us.

Short Short Story

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What was the moment of no return when you understood you had stayed out too late and you had no way home having spent your last coin on the slots or in a bar or wagered on horses, and the sun was setting in a dirty yellow mist beyond the smokestacks and shifty faces peered out of the shadows at you and you walked quickly with pretended purpose, your heart in your mouth, striding as if you meant it although you had nowhere to go and the last bus left without you and you knew if you stopped moving that would be the end?