Tadhg’s Journal: Clackitt’s wood, and nothing happened

99 journal 1 copy

Excerpt from Tadhg’s journal: I just couldn’t get back to sleep last night. At about 2.20am I awoke, and no matter how hard I tried to relax, meditate or just remain there and slowly ‘drift off’, sleep just wouldn’t return. I went downstairs and read a book for an hour. It was an awesome book, one of my favourite authors, but that didn’t help.

My body and mind felt alive, too full of energy and activity to sleep.

I know you’ll think it strange, but at times like those I often think something is imminent. Call it an ‘inner voice’ that you can’t quite hear, an angel that wants an encounter, the Voice, the Source, God, fate, the Spirit, bat khol, an elemental passing nearby, or some unease within the psyche. Whatever it was, it wouldn’t let sleep come to me.

And, so in jeans and t-shirt (and shoes of course, but no socks) I went for a walk. Clackitt’s Wood is near where I live in north Wales, and it has always been the source of inspiration and comfort to me from when I was a lad. And so, I walked there.

The air was cool to cold, fresh you might say, and though I couldn’t see them, the clouds above me ‘felt’ thick and ‘menacingly’ low.  The wind ‘howled’ above the tree-tops which swayed, but I felt nothing, being shielded by those very ancient, wooded guardians.

With a flashlight in hand, I ambled along, slowly. There was, after all, no rush. The trees looked colourless and ‘flat’, like wallpaper draped on an invisible wall just thirty feet or so in front of me and to my sides.

Otherwise, it was pitch black. I actually loved it. No one, apart from me, was out and about. Ancient stories of elementals and cryptids (mythical creatures) sprang to mind. There is usually a moral behind such stories which is what I love about them.

Would such a story reveal its meaning to me? Nothing.

I passed a large lake. It was so still, so dull-looking as my flashlight light sped across its surface. It looked like a huge, lifeless oil-slick. There are stories here, about the afanc, a monstrous creature that resembles an aquatic bull, an alligator or a toad the size of a car, or was it a mixture of all three? However it was described in ancient times, it was said to be blood-thirsty and would devour unsuspecting travellers by running out of the water at them,  only to return with its ‘dinner’ within the space of a few seconds. But, no afanc tonight. No hungry monster.

I was jolted out of that ‘romantic’ and story-centred other-worldly view of everything, abruptly. It started to rain. It was only a light, refreshing shower at first, and then a few seconds later the heavens opened and it poured down. There was nothing I could do, but inwardly smile and get outwardly soaked. A moral there? One didn’t surface.

I had been walking for well over an hour, and I had started to head back to my cottage, Ty Gwin, as it got lighter. Bit by bit, fairly quickly, the ‘flat’ forest appeared to gain some depth, colour was returning to the trees but still only wishy-washy pastel shades, and animals scurried about as the forest ‘woke up’. Would I see something that could be taken as a ‘sign’, a source of inspiration to make my midnight jaunt worthwhile, however deep or shallow I interpreted it? But, nothing.

I went inside the cottage, soaked, aching, cold, miserable and feeling somewhat dejected. Did I mention I was soaked through? I had searched for inspiration and found nothing.

I like poetry, and on the kitchen table was an old, falling-apart, well-thumbed book of poetry my grandmother had given me. The book was open, and revealed this poem by Juan Ramon Jimenez:

I have a feeling that my boat has struck,
down there in the depths, against a great thing.
And nothing happens!

Nothing…Silence…Waves…

Nothing happens?  Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

As I dried out, ofcourse, after reading that, I felt I had learned the lesson, had found some kind of inspiration.

Things happen to us, deep things, things that we cannot see. And, just because we can’t see them, it doesn’t mean they didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean they’re inconsequential. I do not believe in just a ‘clockwork’ universe and even science now talks of bizarre happening at the quantum level. Mae mwy, there is more.

I rested my head on my arms, and my arms rested on the kitchen table. I awoke some hours later at 9.05am, to a ray of sunlight that had just pierced the kitchen window. And, it was almost like an audible voice, but located in my head and not to the left or right of me, in that half sleep-half awake realm, that said, ‘You placed yourself in the path of what might be, and for a seeker, that is sufficient.’

I wished I could have learned that lesson by not having an interrupted sleep, or by not having to for a long night-time walk and getting soaked to the skin in the process, but it was not meant to be.

Sometimes, we actually do have to do things, that might not ‘pay off’ ninety-nine times, but which puts us on the path, in the way of, and opens us up to that one-in-a-hundred encounter with the Other; and that makes all the other seemingly non-productive journeys and activities all the more worthwhile. That was the lesson I had learned, and it was worth it. God, the Source, faith, perseverance…and more!

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