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Saturday afternoon walk

A beautiful winter day - cool and sunny & perfect for a ramble across some still unexplored trails. So I packed a few necessities and unleashed Mary, who is always happy to join me on a walk, long or short. Down by the cemetary and out of the village. Rather too many weekenders in the direction of the monastery, so I followed the old road by the highway and the brambled winter stream. Still lots of mud after this week’s rain.

Walking in no particular direction, with no particular purpose, allows my mind to follow suit. I wouldn’t call it meditation, but on the other hand I don’t get wrapped up in my thoughts. It’s just a time of relative mental freedom. It would be nice to think Deep Thoughts like Sebald, whose book ‘The Rings of Saturn’ I stopped to read for a while on the sunny side of a hill. Sebald starts in Suffolk but the way takes him wherever his muse and kalaidopedic ruminations lead him. Nothing of that, nor Krishnamurti’s ‘beneficience’ come to me. But neither do boredom or listlessness. I wonder how my mental state compares to Mary’s - probably rather poorly. If I am half-cognizant of the muddy path and the rustle of the underbrush, she is much more alert, enthusiastic and aware. Her nose is both sharper and closer to the earth, and it leads her hither and thither, so that half an hour of human time must be worth much more in a dog’s experience. Once, while I was sitting, gazing down through the trees she suddenly started to chase fantasms. Then, abruptly, she came up just before my knees and began vigorously to dig a deep hole in the dark soil, at times stopping to thrust her nose down into it. Who knows what was seeking, or imagined she had perceived.

The same half awareness, a consequence of the mind’s multitasking, is a permanent or chronic condition. Consciousness passes in and out between the internal and external worlds. This week one of the most interesting external stimuli was the installation at the Helena Rubinstein museum, ‘Endless solution’, which opened up a little like a riddle, to be solved like one of Yotam’s computer games, but which was also quite a sensual, atmospheric experience, like a strange dream. Endlessly unraveling strings of floating watermelons, candyfloss sheep, a rusting bicycle bejeweled with salt crystals, a couple laboriously furrowing lines in the sand, like strands of DNA, before the inevitable tide. All of this touched my consciousness without really being settled or resolved, and in this, art seems to be true to life, which also flows by without either being fully perceived or understood. So this is a journal of half-perceptions and half-truths. An exhibition, whose creator’s name has been forgotten, a conference half-attended, a photo-opportunity just missed. And always the likelihood that the true wonder of the day lay just up the path not taken.