Rory found himself standing in the car park of the ‘Black Cow’ Country Park on a damp drizzly Friday morning. His mum had booked him in, he couldn’t see the benefit himself. All he wanted to do was wallow in his room, play a few games on his x box and feel sorry for himself. Without his mum being so positive and booking him in, that was all he would’ve done and then would’ve just accepted the outcome of the investigation. He would’ve blindly put his happiness in the hands of others.
If it hadn’t been for the information sheet Simon had e mailed, explaining about what he’d need to take, wear and do, and the fact that the experience would commence unless the weather was extreme, he would’ve probably given it a miss and stayed at home. In fact, he probably would’ve anyway, but for the fact that mum had read it too and had made sure he was prepped and had actually turned out, despite the fact that it was damp, and he desperately still wanted to be in bed.
Simon was positive and up beat. He’d welcomed Rory and the other participants warmly, got them to fill in the relevant paperwork and given them their deluxe pack lunch. That had opened his eyes. The contents looked mouthwatering, and there was plenty of it too.
Because it was so damp Simon was keen to get the group moving and find some shelter in the woodlands surrounding the car park. There was a glade about 5 minutes in and Simon stopped and put down his pack. Simon set the ‘scene’. His first statement, about the only thing he needed to bring with him was an ‘open mind’ and you could change the way you looked at life seemed a little over the top, but, hey… He spoke about how amazingly lucky we are to have this amazing planet to live on and how it is probably the only one for a very long way away. The miracles that had to happen for it to exist as it does and there is something out there that actually makes us ‘work’. Rory had never though about that before. He’d just taken life for granted. All those things that encompass life, breathing, breathing automatically, thinking, sleeping and waking, for example; and the extra gifts that as humans we have, perception, imagination, the ability to solve problems. He’d never thought about the fact that humans are bigger than the sum of their parts before. Simon then outlined the day, ‘ten-minute challenge’ Eh? What? And off they went.
Rory began to look at the world around him with more of an interest. He looked around him and saw colours and textures he’d never seen, or at least noticed before. He’d touched the bark of trees. It was all so different, hard, soft, rough smooth, cold and warm. Trees had a heartbeat, wow. He’d listened to the wind moving through trees and listened to the water droplets as they fell from leaves and bounced off his head and the leaflitter around him. He’d heard school children and traffic in the distance and the song of birds in the trees around him. Noticed the smell of woodland and laughed when he realised ‘farts’ don’t go away, but our sense of smell can ‘shut down’ or ‘turn off’. He didn’t know that. He was ready for lunch now too, he’d been so absorbed in a fledgling understanding of the world around him that he hadn’t realised how fast the time appeared to have gone.
As he sat down and explored the myriad of taste explosions his mouth was being subjected to and was enjoying the sensation of really being aware of the experience it also began to dawn on him that what he had previously perceived as a waste of a day had second by second, minute by minute begun to draw him in in a way he could hardly believe.
The finale, the ten-minute challenge, had been mind blowing. Simon had talked about electricity, magnetism, gravity, quantum mechanics and about how everything is connected. Rory was reeling as he sat down to begin a ten minute reflection on the day and experience a peace such as he’d never known.
He hadn’t believed that testimonial from social media, but it was absolutely spot on.
The finale, was a 10minute silence sat at the foot of the most amazing tree, something that I thought I would get bored of and I had done many a time, however what was different – Simon encouraged us to be completely still, we kept our phones away and we didn’t talk, something I had never done. What then ensued, was something that I can only compare to the film Avatar. Due to our silence, squirrels played together like in a school playground all around us, a variety of birds chirped right into our ears and you felt the energy of the tree roots right beneath us. I had sat at the foot of a tree ‘experiencing nature’ so many times before, however with Simons tuition, it was something else. Keiran Osbourne 2021.
It was then, after the walk, whilst sitting and drinking a cup of tea, and a cup of tea had never tasted so good before, that Rory realised he hadn’t thought about the allegation at all. Not once, all day. Somehow it didn’t matter quite as much now. He realised, nothing had changed, except his perception. Quite a lot then, really. He laughed, quietly at first, but then he laughed louder, until realised everyone was looking at him and he stopped, a smile spreading from ear to ear.
Simon Pollard. Urban Countryman January 2024.