Tuesday, March 8

A Moment of Sunshine

I sat in the cafe, eating my jacket potato out of it's polystyrene bowl with a Plastic knife and fork. it was a normal March day, dull, grey, uninspiring. I sat by the window looking out at the people as they walked up and down the high street. They walked slowly in groups, dragging children behind them, chatting to each other. Never looking where they were going. At times someone would storm past them, walking as if there lives depended on it. Two speeds of life fighting each other, all of it happening under the shadow of the clouds. The clouds that had been with us for what felt like 6 long months, with out a break.

And then, as the clouds parted, and just for a second, a ray of sunlight shot through the window, and shined upon my face. It was warm, hot even, and under its glare the world seemed to fill with colour, as if freshly painted. I saw the light, I felt the warmth. And I felt that little bit happier.

TreesWithout any pre-ample a part of my mind began to wonder at the miracle of what had just happened. The sun is ridiculously far away from us. And I mean ridiculously far away. If I was to start walking straight up to the sky, and never stop, to sleep, eat, or contemplate the impossibility of what I was doing, it would be 3,500 years before I arrived at the sun. It is so far away that it takes even light 8 whole minutes to travel from the surface to us. And before that light takes thousands of years to work it's way from the centre of the sun to it's edge.

After that it travels through a vacuum of 93 million miles. before a tiny fraction of it, around 0.00000005% hits the earth. Of that only 47% actually makes it the surface, the rest being scattered by the clouds, gas and atmosphere.

How amazing then that after this journey that lasted thousands of years and crossed millions of miles, the light should finally fall on me and make me feel that little bit happier. What were the odds!

And then my mind ran even further. The Potato I eaten existed due to the sun. Without the sun it could never have grown. It was cooked thanks to energy provided by the sun, millions of years ago when it helped the plants and trees grow that would become our oil and gas.

And that same oil was also the father of the polystyrene bowl I was eating out off and the cutlery I was using. And before our sun, Millions of other suns had to die to create the basic elements that make up oil, or that made up me!

In short, that moment, sitting in the cafe, eating my lunch, and feeling the sun warm me, only came about because of 13.7 billion years of the universe. A massive chain of cause and effect, that led, slowly, one step after the other, to a moment when, against all the odds, I could experience a simple moment of pleasure.

And then a moment later the clouds covered the sun again. The world went back to black and white. And I went back to eating my lunch.

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Tuesday, March 1

Climbing Mount Snowdon - A Moment of Spirituality

Now where the snow had been was a tangle of grey ethereal clouds as if she had remembered her long forgotten volcanic origins, and awoken once again.

We rarely managed to look up though. The melting snow birthed streams in every direction, even down the path we climbed. Our every step sent shivers running through the water, our own personal earthquake. The rocks fought, and slipped against us. And so we looked at the path ahead of us, and we made our way slowly up her side.

As we climbed the horizon grew, as if the world were stretching to show off to us. Where before there had been nothing trees, now there was fields and lakes, forests and hills. Even the sea showed itself, a sliver glint on the furthest horizon. A taste of forever just beyond our sight. And still we climbed. Our legs began to burn, the path got steeper. Eventually we left it behind us, scaling the rocks, stumbling, then leaping up, bruised, tired, but still carrying on.

A few steps more, our feet on fire, our clothes damp from the hail and rain, we climbed to the top of a ridge. And we looked over into the edge of the world. The mountain disappeared beneath us. We looked down at a lake, hundreds of feet below us, a mirror laid on the ground to reflect the sky. There were people there, so small they were nothing but specks, as the earth is a speck in our solar system, and the galaxy a speck in the universe. And we looked down upon it all, just specks in a speck, in a speck.

And yet standing there, the earth opened up beneath us, sharing her treasures with us, we felt like the most important people in the universe. To be allowed to spend just a moment there was an astounding privilege, an honor the earth had bestowed on us.

I pondered the age of the rocks beneath my feet, that had waited so many millions of years for me to climb them. I gazed at the landscape unrolled before me, a masterpiece of nature, that seemed to have been waiting for me to see it. This was a moment in time that I would never forget, that would stay with me forever, as a beautiful dreams clings to the thoughts when you wake up in the morning.

We looked. And we listened. There was nothing to hear, except the sound of waterfalls. There were no worries, no complaints, no panic. Just the rush of water as it scattered down the mountain. The sound of a river being born.

Mount Snowdon

And, slowly even my thoughts faded away.There was nothing left to think about. There was nothing but now, with the majesty of the earth shining below me and the water singing as it headed to the valleys below.

Eventually, as the cold started to bite, we turned and began the journey back. Back down the path, back down the rocks that slipped beneath us, back to the car, and the worries, and the life that waited at the base of the mountain.

But as we drove away the mountain looked down upon us. It’s peak seemed to follow us, to linger with us, as the country disappeared and the real world unfolded. We gazed at her peak until the last moment, until she had disappeared beyond the horizon, each of us sharing a silent memory of a moment that would stay with us forever. A moment when we had stood upon the stairs of heaven, floating over the world below us, and looking down, and marveling at the tiny specks, of our tiny little lives.

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