Where the World is Quiet
It is 5am on a winter morning. I am looking out of my study window at the world outside. A glow won’t appear on the horizon for an hour or more, but I can detect the faintest shapes of trees, a neighbouring house and a garden in hibernation. All, except me, is sleeping. It is a peaceful time, a quiet world.
I’m often awake at this early hour, it being my favourite time to write, think and to ponder the day ahead. Will it be a slow day, one that unravels like chestnut leaves in spring? Or will it wake like a newborn lamb, that staggers at first but leaps with joy by nightfall? I pray that it won’t be a day like yesterday.
Yesterday was stormy.
The day began too quickly: waking abrubtly from a nightmare-tormented sleep, wiping the cold sweat from my brow and then realising that I had to be at work for 7am.
I arrived at the office to the bitter gale of business: a manager in meltdown, a customer complaining; colleagues shouting, lying and scrambling to beat each other to the top of empty careers; heads in hands, fingers scratching across table tops, wristwatches that ticked until they became deafening. All this to feel coins in our pockets.
That day is over. It is now just a condemned memory, to be scrubbed from my mind. Today is different. Better. Safer. Why? Because I have somewhere to visit when the storms rage. A quiet place in the lee of a tree, where a single leaf can shelter me from hailstones, where I can rest upon mossy banks, taste spring water from a crystal pool, and where sunlight will always warm me. I’m talking about the Priory, a place in my mind where I can go to escape the rigours of a fast-paced world. A place where I can savour the sublime moments in life.
The Priory was once an everyday thing. As a child I would play with such imagination that the ‘real’ world was never real at all. It was full of mystery, adventure and possibility. But as I grew older, and the horizon got lower, the challenges of life became evident: school bullies (both pupils and teachers) would see me cowering and looking for a way out; employers wanted my soul, but paid little; credit cards deceived me with luxuriant gifts, each one slicing the cards’ plastic blades deeper into my wrists. The world became complex; the Priory grew smaller, reserved only for when I needed it most.
Yesterday, the real world imploded. The pressures of adult responsibility and the dullness of modern existence became too much. The clatter and ‘gnawing tedium’ ceased suddenly and I found myself lying on the warm moss of the Priory, listening to birdsong and staring into the clear waters of the spring.
The Priory was so vivid, so perfect; an altogether more beautiful place.
I lay there expecting to savour it for a while and then sink back to normality. But I can’t remember leaving, only waking this morning with an urge to see the sun rise.
This is how I came to be here, writing these words and yearning to see a new dawn. I look around my study (which flickers and swirls to the glow of a candle) and gaze out of the window at the shades of night. Extra detail is revealed. I feel a sense of magic in the air that I’ve not experienced since childhood. My view of the world has changed.
Whether by conscious decision or by circumstance, the Priory is now real.
This is a sample chapter from A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1
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