After two weeks out of the office, my energy is returning, or so it seems.
There’s a small hill near my house where, as a child, I used to walk the dog. It’s not of any particular size, but to get there you walk through the oldest part of the village, past the remnants of the castle that dominates the river valley. I’ve been meaning to walk back up this hill ever since I came back from China, and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t have except that my energy and will to do anything have been so depleted. But, this morning, I went up there, and it was quite magical. Once you get onto the path upwards, slipping and slithering through the mud, you get into a new-growth forest where there was once common land, and sheep grazing. The trees are bare now, of course, but many of them are covered in a vivid green moss; ferns and fungi are everywhere around.
Reaching the top of the hill, the path splits, forming a crossroads. As you stand here, you can see over the treetops and see all along the river valley, from the brooding black hills to the north, and southwards towards the sea. Just next to this is an older tree, with dramatically spreading branches. Someone had left a bunch of brightly-coloured flowers between this tree’s roots. Who knows why? Perhaps there’s a coven active locally.
Retracing my steps, I went along the the riverside towards town. The music of hounds suddenly reached me from above; the local fox hunt were working the fields adjacent to where I’d just been. I could see the hounds following a line into the woods; behind them came the field – 20 or so mounted followers – silhouetted on the skyline for a few moments before vanishing from sight.
All of which is nothing much to do with anything, other than – perhaps – it’s a part of the process of re-connecting with the qi of the land, and of rebuilding my own reserves of qi.
Earlier this evening, I stood in zhan zhuang; I was practising indoors, because that’s what I’m used to doing now, what with the constant rain we’ve had these last months. I was ready to go to bed, to be honest, but I thought I would take a look outside first – and what do you know, it’s cold and clear outside.
So, I wrapped up, turned all the house lights off, and took myself to the bottom of the garden for another session of zhan zhuang. There’s a spot where all streetlights are blocked from my line of sight; there’s still the lo-glo of course, but there’s nothing to be done about that. The sound of traffic from local roads is much heavier than it was when I was younger, but you can tune it out. And so I stood there, the stars clear overhead; the calls of two different types of owl, out on the hunt, were clear, and close. The wind is light, and draws out the presence of branches.
So I finished my session, and came indoors… but then realised that the moon is rising. Soon, I’ll be able to go back outside to that spot, and stand for a while with the moon visible over the rooftop. It’s late; I’m tired; I really should go to bed… but moments like this are rare.