Solitude à deux
She's five years old today....

The capacity for awe

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

From Dani Shapiro's Still Writing: The Pleasures and Perils of a Creative Life:

"Too often, our capacity for awe is buried beneath layers of perfectly reasonable excuses. We feel we must protect ourselves -- from hurt, disappointment, insult, loss, grief -- like warriors girding for battle. A Sabbath prayer I have carried with me for more than half my life begins like this: 'Days pass and the years vanish and we walk sightless among miracles.'

"We cannot afford to walk sightless among miracles. Nor can we protect ourselves from suffering. [As writers] we do work that thrusts us into the pulsing heart of the world, whether or not we're in the mood, whether or not it's difficult or paintful or we'd prefer to avert our eyes. When I think of the wisest people I know, they share one defining trait: curiosity. They turn away from the minutiae of their lives -- and focus on the world around them. They are motivated by a desire to explore the unfamiliar. They enjoy surprise."

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

From Paul Bogard's The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light:

''Most days I live awed by the world we have still, rather than mourning the worlds we have lost. The bandit mask of a cedar waxwing on a bare branch a few feet away; the clear bright sun of a frozen winter noon; the rise of Orion in the eastern evening sky - every day, every night, I give thanks for another chance to notice. I see beauty everywhere; so much beauty I often speak it aloud. So much beauty I often laugh, and my day is made.

''Still if you wanted to, I think, you could feel sadness without end. I’m not even talking about hungry children or domestic violence or endless wars between supposedly grown men...but ‘you mustn’t be frightened if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you even seen,' said Rilke, 'you must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in it hand and will not let you fall.' ''

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

After five years on the flanks of Nattadon Hill, it is deeply familiar, and eternally surprising. Tilly and I never know what we might find: tall spires of foxglove flaming among the trees, badger prints pressed into the mud beside the leat, or a herd of wild ponies resting in the shade at the woodland's edge. Every day there are wonders, large and small. If I stayed inside intent on screen and keyboard, how would I see them? And if I numbed myself against sorrow and despair, how would I feel awe and joy?

Come, says Tilly, it's time to go out again, and she's always right. The world calls us, in all its dark and bright and sun-dappled shade. Full of hardship, yes, but also moments of magic: a quiet, daily, domestic kind of magic. A bright summer day, and a good dog at your side, and wild ponies in the woods.

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Dartmoor ponies in Nattadon Woods

Comments