Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Remember the days, not long ago, when you could take a walk outdoors (inhaling all the fresh air and oxygen available to you) on some bright sunny day, birds chirping and flitting about, kids riding bikes and shooting hoops, passers-by wearing the same kind of gentle smile you have that just sort of spontaneously forms itself on the face because you have serendipitously found yourself in a gentle, joy-filled atmosphere where in a certain lightness of step and elevation of mood such a simple, everyday pleasure momentarily envelopes all on sidewalk or wooded path in a kind of ad hoc kinship of subtle delight—and none had to give a thought about some Karenazi jumping out from behind a bush or scrambling up from beneath a bridge to swear at you and yours and anybody else within growling distance for, OMG, not wearing a mask?
Remember when right and wrong and true and false and good and bad and logic and hope and faith and patriotism, Mom, apple pie, and God still peppered even ordinary conversations as well as the news–without having to first look around lest Ms. K. is bending an ear in your direction?
Remember when free speech formerly championed on college campuses was not subject to attack and agitation, assault and battery, smashing and trashing, let alone cancellation and cursing? Closely related: remember when irony was still taught in schools?
Remember when Orwell was fiction?…
(Asking for a friend.)
The good old days, eh?
However (and Shhh, don’t tell Ms. K) all that blessed, healthy, joy-inducing, mood-enhancing, mind-calming, creativity-stimulating, inspiration-sparking, genius-building freedom of thought, expression, assembly, discourse, religion, and movement never given too much thought prior to last year–even inside university classrooms–now requires a certain kind of courage (and okay when did THAT happen?).
But never fear.
WE CAN STILL RESIST the K’s of the world and not just those on the lookout for The Masks.
Doesn’t have to be a big deal, either, to revive and resume experiences like The Walk described above, still available free of charge in any ordinary day when the joy of all that buds and blooms, sparks and soothes, inspires and excites, entices sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. And prompts invention of thought, word, or deed. To the good.
Of course, as those trolling behind every bush and underneath every bridge seem to increasingly ramp up their angst and try to herd the rest of us further and further into the corners of division, dark moods, and despair, we might need to maybe remain inside, lock the doors, pull the shades, unplug the iGadgets, crank up the volume and dance to our own music for a while. But that’s all to the good, too.
Because they can never take away all that’s really normal, healthy, and inspiring that loosens up tense minds and hearts, nurtures hope, and prompts us toward freedom and light.
Because the human spirit is indomitable.
As long as we don’t allow ourselves to be cornered…
I have a sign posted on my kitchen wall that reads “Do one thing every day that makes you happy.”
Who knew such a thing could be almost revolutionary in this day and age when darkness dominates? Like speaking a simple truth to power–or to any random Karenazi jumping out from her bush or bridge of fear. For she needs this reminder, too.
So my contribution, I should say my blogger friend’s contribution, to your greater health and joy today is a description of another (real) walk in his corner of the globe. A simple thing he does every day offering good weather.
And see what he gleaned for us, here, today, to disperse a bit of gloom, fend off some frustration, perhaps, and/or shed some light of revelation that transcends the mess in the trenches.
And that’s the other point about the (indomitable, undefeatable, unconquerable) normalcy of ordinary days no one can steal: if we allow it, there’s always something to lift and embolden body, mind, soul, and spirit, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, literally and figuratively.
Look and listen with “the mind’s ear” a bit–and be inspired, nurtured, and encouraged.
And just enjoy. –PBN
Folkestone to Sandgate along the Lower Leas Coastal Park
by blogger Colin Markham, February 2021
I walked down the steep Old High Street with its colourful array of shops, cafes and restaurants. Then I made my way round the inner harbour which is overshadowed by the Hotel Burstin, a 1970s monstrosity that epitomises the town’s lost fortunes. I strolled along Marine Parade, passing the site of an amusement park, in its heyday popular with day trippers. There is no trace of it now, only banks of shingle. My mind’s ear detected faint echoes of a more leisurely age when simple pleasures sufficed to please the masses. These recollections are familiar to those of us whose memories dwell from time to time on scenes from the past, brief moments of pleasure captured for posterity in lazy childhood summers, those long languid days in the sun. Adjacent to the beach is a
Victorian crescent of houses, smart in their refurbished finery. Behind them the Road of Remembrance, the hill down which men marched for embarkation to a futile war. Nearby, the derelict hydraulic lift that once conveyed visitors up and down between the promenade and sea level. The crowds, the merriment and the bustling activity are long gone. The world, people, aspirations and destinations, have all changed. Then life was relatively uncomplicated; now we live in strange complex times under an ominous shadow. Then we had fewer expectations and we had to work hard to better our lives; now comfort and convenience are all around us. Then we were unhurried; now we are bowled along with dehumanising speed, an unthinking uncaring pace that feeds instant gratification.
I entered the coastal park past one of the two toll houses that once levied a charge for the privilege of traversing this route to Sandgate, courtesy of Lord Radnor whose land this is. Above me, wooded slopes surmounted by the long sweep of promenade known as The Leas, lined with elegant buildings beside soft green lawns. Here below, a charming passage through the rustic habitat of squirrels, jays and collared doves. I was soon enclosed within a miniature paradise, the pine trees and proximity to the shore evoking a Mediterranean ambience, a semi-exotic enclave that delights the senses. The sounds of nature completed the harmony, the gentle cooing of wood pigeons, the distant hiss of the sea, the wind whispering through delicate tamarisks and lofty trees with creaking boughs. The route was strewn with pine cones and my steps trod crisp debris. I saw numerous paths, some vanishing into the foliage, others leading nearer to the water’s edge. The enchantment of this place is savoured in stillness, by pausing to breathe the atmosphere, allowing it to cover you with its subtle tones, leafy shades and natural music, antidotes to the urban rush, the mechanical world that crushes the spirit. Here is a welcome retreat from the storms of life, an experience that lifts one’s sensitivities from the stress and clamour of the workaday world.
Something drew me closer to the shore. I wanted to inhale the salt sea air, to witness the crashing waves, to hear the stones sing their liquid chorus in the receding waters. I stood on the beach, buffeted by a keen wind, and looked across to the horizon where sea and sky meet. Above, the great canopy, calm and serene; below, the heaving menacing waters, vast in their tumult. There I was, a speck in the universe, a frail mortal beside immense power and commotion, a still small voice drowned by the roar of the ocean. All the elements of creation were present: clouds, wind, the aroma of salt air, the sound and fury of the sea, its dissipated energy swirling around my feet in rivulets of foam. And all this against a backdrop of peace – leaves and feathers, earth and dust – the ark of nature’s garden, a refuge from the surging clawing sea, the restless sea that symbolises the turbulence of life, the search for happiness, the presumption and vanity of man, the perennial quest for knowledge and perfection.
It was a moment of transcendence which I will carry with me to that place of enduring peace, that eternal paradise where no dark and evil currents intrude, where all past anxieties and hurts are consigned to oblivion. The park, its idyllic scenery and the spell it casts, is a metaphor, a foretaste of the peace that will enfold the people of faith, those who keep divine truth close to their hearts, those who tread a wary path through the pitfalls of this troubled world. ‘Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.’ (1 Corinthians 13.12 JB)