Tuesday, 6 January 2015

One word.

As I wrote yesterday, I don’t have resolutions, but I do have goals this year. I really feel quite absurdly adult every time I write that down. One of them is to improve the blog. Unfortunately, I have no idea how this may be done. I already give it pretty much my best shot, in the time I have and the mental capacity available to me. (As some of the Dear Readers know to their cost, this can be quite limited, especially on the days when the brain goes phhhttt at around tea-time.) I’m not quite sure where the improvement is going to come from.

Yeah, I thought, like one of those old hipsters who still wear jackets with fringes, I’ll snap up my prose and say things about life, man.

I’ll get snappy altogether. I’ll stop winding on and galloping off on tangents and saying the same thing in five different ways. I’ll bring in a bit more of the world. I shall put on my serious hat and address the Matters of the Day.

Most of all, I’ll stop banging on about the red mare. I hope you noticed that yesterday she did not get a mention.

And just this moment I thought: absolute buggery bollocks.

This is not supposed to be a great, shimmering, public achievement. It is the musing of an ordinary middle-aged woman, who happens to have the great good fortune to live in an extraordinary place. It’s not supposed to be life-changing, or profound, or philosophical. If it has a purpose, which I sometimes doubt, it is to raise a spirit, here and there. I swear I have become such a love and trees hippy that I think if I have made one person smile today, then my work is done.

I think: why did I decide that it must be better? Am I vamping for recognition or yearning for compliments or pleading for prizes? I don’t want to be that damn seal, begging for fish.

The lovely thing about a blog is that it is entirely voluntary. This is not your favourite newspaper, where you cannot avoid the idiot columnist who drives you batshit nuts in the head. It is not the prescribed book on the curriculum which you must summarise. If people hate it, they can read something else.

The mare exists here because I love her and I want her recorded. When she is no longer with me, I want to take down this book and slowly read. She is the great life event of my middle years, and she teaches me true things every day.

Today, she taught me something about stillness. I was rushing about as usual, up to HorseBack for work and a meeting, back to my desk with many pages of book to edit, thinking already about what I would write here, trying to catch Scotland with my camera as the most glorious sun dazzled down on the blue land. In the middle of all this, I went up to the field. The mare was hanging out with her little Paint friend, eating her hay and basking in the light. She stopped eating when I arrived, and stood next to me, her head over my shoulder, dozing gently as I scratched the special place on her cheek that is one of her sweet spots.

There have been a lot of articles lately about how mediation can save your life. I can’t meditate to save mine. My monkey mind monkeys around and I get cross and frustrated when I try to still it. As I stood under our favourite tree with my great, beautiful, powerful creature, harmony running from her mighty body to my puny one, I suddenly realised that I do meditate, just not in the usual way. The horse is my existential fulcrum.

She was a study in stillness, even as Stanley the Dog danced about her legs and staged his own running races. We were utterly still, together. She was not thinking about the book she had to write or the email she must send her agent or the time management she must attempt to enforce. She was just being her good, kind self, which is her special subject.

I put my head against hers and thought how people have a single word when they meditate. I chose a word. I filled my busy head with that word. I felt the word run from her self to mine, stitching us together, making us whole.

The word was love.


Today’s pictures:

Hello GIRLS:

6 Jan 1

(The awful thing is I can imagine him doing a Leslie Phillips voice at moments like this. Ding dong.)

And here he looks like a Ten Best Dressed Man from Tailor and Cutter, circa 1959:

6 Jan 2

It is amazing to me how two such elegant, beautiful mares can sometimes look like a caricature of Farmer Giles:

6 Jan 3

Watching Stan the Man run his race:

6 Jan 6

Special Scottish sheep:

6 Jan 6-001

The view south over the Dee valley, from HorseBack this morning:

6 Jan 9


  1. Well you have made me laugh out loud with your comments re Stanley & Leslie Phillips. My absolute favourite line from any film was one of his from a St Trinian's - "Ding, Dong - I say, you girls are bang on for sixteen'. The perfect definition of 'so bad it's good'. Was going to tell you about an extraordinary moment of meditation I had last week - a whole half hour of utter silence in Cartmel Priory, but thought you'd prefer the Leslie Phillips

    1. Recall my grandmother and I with sore sides from laughing at Leslie Phillips; Stanley Baxter; and James Robertson-Justice in 'The Fast Lady'-classic!

  2. Everyone should have an existential fulcrum. A think a peaceful baby grand daughter is mine.

  3. Firstly, bravo. No need to fix what's not broken. The blogs I enjoy the most have one thing in common: they seem to be genuinely about their writers rather than trying to cater to any particular audience. It's the real people, not the deep thoughts, that draw me in.

    Secondly, my relationship to meditation changed when I understood (or think I did) what the teachers mean when they tell you not to fight with your mind. It will run wild. Sometimes - most times, for me - for the whole duration. The practice is not so much to still the mind as it is to notice what the mind gets up to, again and again. Notice the frustration. Notice the restlessness. Notice oh what am I going to do once I've finished this. Notice failing to notice. I unashamedly resort to good guided meditations because then there's someone to remind me to notice. Simply put, I realised that I'm not doing it "wrong". That there is no wrong, there's just doing. Sounds naff, I know.

    Sorry to go all meditation evangelist on you. It's just that "when I try to still it" sounded very familiar and I realised that I'm not so worried about that any more, and somehow meditation makes more sense now. -Tuuli

  4. Quite obviously our dog will never wake up in the morning telling himself ' I'm such a stupid dog'. Why should he ? Humans do this exclusively corrupting themselves. Animals know better to use their energy. Just a thought.

  5. I have yet to 'make friends' with meditation but what you describe sounds bang on to me. Says she, who once tired a guided sleep meditation and got up to write a shopping list while it was still going.:)

    You completely nailed Stan the Man as a Best Dressed Man. x

  6. I come here because it's all real...I relate, I get sad, weepy, distraught. I get goofy, happy, hysterical with the smallest or funniest moment. I absolutely adore the Mare and if you ever stopped talking about her..perhaps I might have to leave. So..please just continue to be yourself....with great affection to the cast of characters...Judith in Northern California, USA


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