I was giddy from the after effects of a gimlet cocktail that had arrived by post as I danced around my bedroom like a teenager while somebody in South Africa whispered instructions and calming mantras into my ear. I was not alone. There were 307 people across the globe taking part in the Secret Sunrise Earth Hour silent disco last weekend and I could see them all on my iPad when I swiped left.
There were German dudes, Italians, French, young couples, people who could really dance and others like me who haven’t been to a nightclub since 1986.
There was a moment when I said to myself ‘Oh my f****** God. It’s like being in an episode of Black Mirror.’ The future is here, only it’s not orange unfortunately.
On Tuesday, I had a call with my spiritual mentor Marion, where I confessed that as a kid I believed I had magic powers because whenever somebody crossed me, bad things happened to them. I feel a bit like this about the current pandemic. I’ve yearned for a simpler way of life, a quieter neighbourhood, less consumerism and more altruism. Having watched medics and carers tend to my dying father, I wondered if we would ever live in a society where they were valued above the bankers, the businessmen and the billionaires.
And here it is…. my heart’s desire, only it’s a dark fairytale because it comes at a terrible price.
Every time I look at the news, I become acutely aware of the cost, but when I avoid it, I can retreat back into the bubble of this new normal where hibernating is a heroic act. I’m very happy here. I am doing ballet and Marion’s meditation classes online, Cadbury’s have just delivered enough chocolate to last me until Easter 2021 and I have a book commission to keep me occupied.
So, while I respect the gravity of the situation, I am actively choosing not to dwell on bad news. Me being anxious is not going to help anyone, not least my family who are relying on me to pick up wet towels, flush toilets and clear away endless dirty plates. It is business as usual here folks, despite the fact we are in the middle of a pandemic.
I’m reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh at the moment called Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise. He writes:
“The basic condition for us to be able to hear the call of beauty and respond to it is silence. If we don’t have silence in ourselves – if our mind, our body, are full of noise – then we can’t hear beauty’s call.”
I get this. When I spent four days at a silent retreat in Wales last September and got hit in the heart by a nuclear love bomb, nature called to me. I stared at trees for ages, got on my knees and smelt the grass and was utterly mesmerised by summer’s late blooms. During an early morning run I was so awestruck by the sight of the sun rising up behind the mountains, I stood there and wept. My mind and body were still and beauty was everywhere I looked.
I had to traipse to the Brecon Beacons to find stillness, but now it is right outside my door. Gone is the constant drone of aircraft, the rumble of traffic and pubs turning out at night. It is so quiet that all I can hear is birdsong.
There has never been a better time to find stillness. There is no excuse. No meetings to dash to, pubs to frequent or tables booked in restaurants. An invitation exists for everyone. Find the stillness, or better still, let it find you, because if you invite it in and surrender, it will.
Finally, having done so much stuff online this week, I have an urge to speak to camera. I don’t know what I am going to say or whether or not it will prove helpful to anyone, but I intend to do a Facebook live session on my Falling Together Facebook page this weekend. Do pop by and have a look if you’re bored.
Stay safe and well. Until next time.