As weeks go this one has been flipping great and I definitely feel like I’ve reconnected with the countryside over the last few days.
Although I never really ‘disconnected’ from it I’ve been walking the same routes (by necessity) day in and day out for many months.
Now all of a sudden I’m off the leash and it’s a great feeling.
It’s been a while since I walked any completely new routes locally and today I headed out through the fields and country lanes of Hampton Magna and wound my way the long way around to the Hatton Arms.
The weather was glorious.
Today I also felt like I had more than usual to twalk about – and I realised that despite not thinking anything had been sinking from what I’ve been reading lately (it takes a while to get your brain into a gear thats relaxed enough to absorb new concepts I find) I surprisingly appear to have a head full of Chinese (pop) philosophy.
I’m particularly taken at the moment with the fact that the Chinese words for heart and mind are one and the same – xin.
I’ll be honest – this didn’t mean much to me when I read it the other day – but I made a note of it just in case and came back to it a few times. Like tealeaves diffusing their flavour into a pot of boiling water the idea behind this has begun to slowly percolate into my thoughts and colour my perspective.
Probably without always realising it I’ve more often than nor tried to separate the logical side of me from the emotional side when I make life decisions. I try whenever possible to make what I consider to be rational choices.
Emotions are for friendships and personal interactions – not your path in life.
At least so I thought – because when you consider it more deeply it makes very little sense to think of heart and mind as separate.
The heart after all is merely an organ designed to pump blood. The way we generally describe it in conversation is little more than an esoteric container human beings have constructed to intellectualise emotion. In reality we all know that logical and emotional choices take place in one area – the brain.
Any flutters we feel in the heart from adrenaline are actually caused by the mind, rather than the other way around – yet we persist with these arbitrary conceptual descriptors and are continually attempting to draw lines between two sides of our nature that we have artificially torn asunder.
Furthermore they are often worse than separated because we regularly paint them as being at war or in opposition. Given a particular circumstance we have learned to believe that one has value and the other does not.
You leave passionate emotion out of the workplace and you leave logical coolness out of romance.
Maybe a better way (my most enlightening book suggests) is to continually train ourselves to make the best emotional and rational choices by combining the two continually.
Your emotional intelligence is important. Gut feelings have value.
If something at work feels wrong but seems like a sensible course of action then maybe ignoring the ‘irrational’ or unquantifiable side of your nature is something that you do at your peril.
The philosopher Mencius believed that it is our capacity (if learned and used) to follow the heart/mind (xin) rather than go along blindly with either the senses or the intellect that will enable us to prosper.
Cultivating your xin by continually combining logic and emotion during actions with others is what fosters your ability to decide well. Good decisions are made when the heart and mind are integrated.
I probably bored my friend to death with my chatter as we walked – but he persevered despite a poor night’s sleep – and soon we’d twalked our way onto the canal towpath heading back toward Hatton Locks.
Blocking our path (and bringing me back down to earth) was a ferocious sentinel – who threatened to love and sniff us to death unless we stopped to tickle her tummy.
As you all know I find it hard to tolerate dogs (😏) but on this one occasion I relented and allowed it to slow my progress.
You can tell by the look in it’s eyes that we were moments from death.
It was a close call.
After a lucky escape we stopped for a coffee and I couldn’t help but pluck a few apples from a nearby tree – which were warming in the midday sun.
They were absolutely flipping scrumdiddlyumtious!
The difference between the taste of fruit plucked fresh from a branch vs one that’s been sitting in a supermarket is impossible to describe.
There’s a crispy freshness in something that’s alive and bursting with goodness that just can’t be beaten.
However – I did try to enhance the pleasure – and we all know that there’s only one way to accomplish that.
You add coffee.
After sitting for a while and chatting we headed off along a different route home (via Budbrooke) which was a slightly shorter path back to our starting point.
It’s often tempting to always look at the horizon when it’s this lovely – and you can see home in the distance – but I generally find it difficult not to look at all the little incidental details in the grass.
I spend a lot of time looking at my feet.
As I was passing a particularly green clump I noticed a teeny tiny mushroom – which seemed to have its fins/ridges on the top rather the underside.
I’d not noticed one like it before.
As it turned out the underside also had a familiar mushroomy pattern on it – but it was so delicate that it snapped clean in two when it was touched.
Either way I love finding little things like this that previously I just never took the time to stop and look at. It makes me feel connected to the world around me and completely invested in the corner of it that I live in.
Throughout most of the day today I could see the spires of the church in the centre of Warwick as well as the castle in the background. I’ve seen it from so many angles and so may perspectives since I started walking that I’ve realised it’s completely burrowed into my psyche.
It’s nested there and functions as a beacon – providing a sense of place and direction that few other things do.
I know I’m always close enough to home to feel secure if I can see it – and even if I’m wandering through a new place nearby I’m never lost. Sooner or later I turn a corner and catch sight of it in the distance. No matter how small it might look I know I just have to walk a little further and I’m safe.
Days like this need to be savoured.
My xin is balanced and I feel good internet.