On freezing time and the light on Seaford Head

On freezing time and the light on Seaford Head

Daylight anxiety

Another sunny Spring day fades away in Newhaven.

And I see it: I am happy when the sun is shining and there is daylight but I get edgy when it dims.

When I’m in Brazil, I always find it unbearable that the sun drops like a rock at six o’clock every day. No twilight, no dusk. Just night, like a musty velvet curtain, killing the daylight in a moment.

These days, in February, in Sussex, I am sniffing the air for summer. I’m ticklish for long languorous days where the sun stays up till 10 and I don’t feel this vague panic as the light slips away.

My friend Henry mused that some people have the ability to freeze time. That’s how they get so much done with their lives. I, maddeningly, do not have that magic gift. Instead I potter around drinking tea, staring at the sea, spending too much time looking at my phone, being indecisive. And then, - puff! - the day light is vanishing and night is coming and my heart screws itself up a little.

It’s perhaps because I’m a lark, always up when the sun comes up, always happiest in the morning. But basically, when dusk comes then I give up and my thoughts head to bed, leaden and lost. Perhaps anticipating this leads to the underlying thud of anxiety I feel when I have a day off.

It would be so much better if I could freeze time magically whenever I want and sit in the morning light with a book, when the birds sing, and the sun does that particular thing on the cliffs of Seaford Head and the the snowdrops look so dandy and I feel content. And to stay like that till I’ve had time to enjoy it all properly. Which might take several hours. (Or maybe a week?)

And then I could unfreeze time and continue with my day.

Or in lieu of magic, time-bending powers, I could practice what I teach and sit with it. Sit with the itchy and scratchy thoughts and habits that make me spoil the flow of a day with worry.

When I am gardening - sweeping paths or chopping back hedges, - it’s amazing how often my thoughts run into a rather angry groove. Unchecked, my energy and attention have rattled into the over-worn runnels of my worry-brain and roll like noisy marbles around the neural pathways there.
I have to consciously steady my mind, pick the marbles out and place them into a quieter place. And then go on gardening.

Meanwhile - Reggie reminds me - my body goes on expanding. My resplendent Buddha body, all radiant and uncomplicated, good-natured and connected is always in the moment. It’s just overlooked while my thoughts rattle down the worry-brain’s tunnels.

Stopping for a moment with trowel in hand, standing up and looking at Seaford Head with the eyes located, not in the head but in the belly, or in the heart, then I get a momentary sense of that Buddha Body. It’s so simple and uncomplicated. Just going on, happy and cosmic.

One day I will crack it. I will spend the whole of a day off in my body. Pottering happily, happy that time is flowing, happy that the sun shines and rains drops miraculously from the sky. Smelling soil, observing funny anxious thoughts like mind mushrooms, luxuriating in the bath of emotion and sensation filling my body. Not writing blogs in my head, not worrying about writing the great British epic, not ticking of demon to-do lists.

One day, when the summer comes.

Meanwhile, the darkness is just about here. I’m writing by the light of my computer screen as the birds do that reet-teet-teet-teet chatter and find their roosts. On one level my mind is mourning the end of the day, but the Buddha body (which I’ve forgotten again) is as happy with the darkness as with the light.

One day, I will stay with it.