Reaching equilibrium

Three days into the yoga, and after three 90 minute classes, the tendons have eased and the core has strengthened and the movements are more fluid, the pauses less collapsed, more pensive, and the practice has become a routine so sorts.  In the shade of Kranti Yoga’s Massive stage, with its multi-coloured curtains and striped canopy, along with 30 other drop-ins, most of whom come every day, I have found a place where my body is finally listening to my mind, if not my heart, and vice versa.

That’s also three mornings of banana pancakes on the veranda of our hut, followed by an hour of digestion and the guilt-ridden process of catching up on emails and the news from RTE, then the yoga session, which would be so much better at 7.30 or 8am before the breakfast and the consciousness, then a swim in the luke-warm surf and an hour to dry off in the baking mid-day heat, before a snack lunch or a pot of coffee. We choose one of two cafes because of the staff and their sympatico approach to us. One serves an exceptional lemon and mint blended drink full of ice, and the other a cafetiere of good strong coffee, and both have good wifi. Then we consider an hour walking in the sun, either the length of the two beaches or around a block of back roads, away from the sun and the people, and then perhaps another swim, followed by showers and two hours’ siesta. That brings us to twilight and quickly darkness in the room, and time to spray the deet and step into the dark street, with its small booths of local clothing and trinkets, the money exchange shops offering sub-standard rates, and the ice cream stand that lacks all the appeal of ice-cream in the west, then onto the beach again to sit in candlelight and admire Sirius, dominating the sky, and to listen to the rhythm of the water slapping and lapping, in an infinite repetition. The kites are circling, and there are fruit bats as big as them, stretching their wings and settting off to feed. A beer or two, and we’re ready for a plate of fish or tandoori chicken or curried vegetables, before our final stroll back to the huts, then to bed in the dark box with its tiled floor, rush matting walls, ineffective ceiling fan and double bed covered in an effective mosquito net, for an hour of reading on the computer, a novel of no consequence but well written. There’s another frog in the toilet, as still as a turd but ready to jump at the first sign of urine. At this moment I can be glad I’m not a sitter…

Another day passes without plans or decisions or conflict or clock-watching tension or creative endevour. Another day of  complete relaxation which brings us to an equilibrium rarely experienced in our lives at home.  It is a re-charging process which reaches down into the core, refills cells which may lie dessiccated for months or years, and yet it cannot last, because once we feel replete, we need to begin to move forward, to create, to want again.  I love the equilibrium, but I love the see-saw of normal life more.

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My Friday morning silence.

The office is now a therapy room and meditation space and the hallway is an office. The desk has been butchered to fit, and there’s a new view.  There were no phone calls, or toilet flushes.  The dog didn’t decide to skit around in the kitchen with her new toy.  The coffee grinder was not used and the kettle had already boiled.  The only sound was the gentle clicking of the Apple keyboard, and my breathing and an occasional morning cough.  The new solid pine doors separated us and our respective mornings, but your mindfulness was interrupted by the consciousness of another being in the house, and mine by the knowledge that you’re now working at home too.  The sounds of traffic and distant bells, or Cork’s buzz, such as it is on a Friday morning, were removed, and the residual silence screamed. It will take us both time to adjust.

Your peace, albeit interrupted, was counterbalanced by my apprehension, as thoughts about the final preparations for Monday trundled through my mind.  The coffee is strong and fresh at least.  23 American potters will be here for four days, perhaps sharing over 900 years of combined experience, and they will be taught, or not, fed and watered, entertained, for the week.  This will need to be military in its planning, but not in its presentation.  Why are they here?  They’ve paid well for a two week tour of Ireland, concentrating on visits to craft shops, to galleries and castles, museums and attractions, but they’ve chosen the trip for the workshops. They want to learn from their Irish colleagues, and to see some new techniques, but they’re also here to soak up the atmosphere, partake of the craic, feel the love we have of our craft.  Yes, it is, again, a performance as much as a series of workshops. They want a relationship with the tutors and the place, its history seeping into them.  Last year, the group of 16, when surveyed about their trip, commented on the cleanliness, or lack of it, here.  My first reaction was irritation: it’s a working pottery for God’s sake!  But that criticism had its effect, and the whole place has been cleaned, the table tops replaced, the toilets polished… And now it’s the small things – the food allergy notified, the projector focused, the potters’ knives washed, the fridge stocked with ‘sodas’, and the weather watched for the outdoor day.

And why am I doing it?  Well, I could be crass about the money it makes, or I could make up something about engaging with like-minded people from across the pond, but in fact, it is part of the steam engine that shunts up and down a track, whose boiler was stoked several years ago and still has a head of steam, collecting and delivering loads. It is an extension of the overpowering summer during which, in three months, 550 people took classes and courses here.  And it is another welcome distraction from the looming editing task for the novel, and the winter ahead.  It’s is a function.  It centres me to know I have my year punctuated with jobs that must be done.  It fills the silence of my Friday morning.