The turning wheel

Nature reminds me of my mortality.

The butterfly and the dying leaves are a reminder of the impermanence of life.

The butterfly and the dying leaves are a reminder life is impermanent.

I felt my mortality when I visited Hilly Fields in Colchester today.  The blackberry bushes that ten days before was a hive of bee activity no longer displayed flowers, but rapidly ripening fruit, I ate my first wild blackberry of the year.  I looked upon a pond of water that was now thick with green algae, the buttercup-like flowers had vanished, so had the water birds.  In those ten days so much had changed in Hilly Fields, and a terror-struck me .

My melancholy began in Castle Park earlier in the day, the wind sent a shower of seeds and leaves to the ground.  I worried, leaves falling so early? All the leaves were less vital and green on these trees, it had felt like only weeks since there had been no leaves upon the trees, the result of a winter that invaded into May.  A squirrel caused me to forget my anxiety for a moment as it looked up at me hopefully for food, I gave it a crisp.

Back in Hilly Fields I found a piece of brick tile that a mole had dug up, my Roman ancestors must have littered Hilly Fields with kilns, the fragments are everywhere.  Movement in the grass, betrayed a small frog, so tiny, at the beginning of its life.  Tile and frog, a reminder of the passing of time, the source of my anxiety.  The changes in Hilly Fields even in this short time of ten days was a reminder that the wheel was turning, I don’t think I could face another winter.

I sat upon a hill watching the sun go down. The flying bugs reassured me as they hovered above the trees near me in their mating dance, an act they have been doing for several weeks, a small act of stability I needed in a changing world.  The sun vanished, it grew chill and darker.  I walked home, and the wheel continued to turn.


15 responses to “The turning wheel

  1. we defeat mortality through our children

  2. Last week I asked a student why were we here, the religiously devout reply to worship God didn’t surprise me. My response shocked him, that we were here simply to supply compost to the planet as is every living thing. Our own mortality is not as important as we pretend, we all end up as the ignoble product for ensuring the planet survives, despite our current attempts to destroy it sooner while we search futilely to prolong the inevitable.

    A very pragmatic view, and not one many consider.


    • When salmon have reached the end of their journey they self destruct in order to provide food for their young after the eggs have been released. All of life are carriers of energy that will be of sustainable nourishment for something on death, it is a way that energy flows through energy systems. I like your pragmatic view on the physical side of the body.

  3. Well that’s the body neatly dealt with – one way or another! What of our thoughts, ideas, inspirations and the changes we make to others as the wheel turns and we travel onwards? I refute the idea that Shakespeare, Einstein or Mozart were here simply as compost – or ceased to exist when their bodies died.
    Yes, our own mortality and the signs of it around us can bring us up short at times. That’s good, if it galvanises us into action and encourages us to make our mark upon the planet, but not so good if it simply sends us spinning into melancholy…

    • I think we can see our legacy on many levels:
      1. body becomes food for other living things.
      2. our DNA moves forward in children.
      3. our ideas, creations and stories live on.

      • Not so sure about 1. Would have thought that burials in the ground these days weren’t that common? But without 2. & 3. it strikes me that life would be pointless. And just realised how silly that was! For without the number two there would be no life.

      • I intend to be buried, be literally part of the animals and plants that feed on me. You are right that other forms of disposing of the body denies animals or plants a healthy free meal.

  4. Just sitting here having read your post and comments out to Jean. She has expressed a desire to be buried above ground, for Jean dislikes worms! Not sure about my thoughts, except that it’s time to get up and finish off installing a bat house atop a 23 ft pole before it gets too hot. Such is life, and death!

    • To cheer everyone up, a Roman male burial was found in Colchester that had a pipe leading from his coffin to the surface so his family could keep him topped up with his favoured beverage, no doubt wine.

  5. Our mortality for me Alex doesn’t worry me so much as the prospects of our children children’s world to come .. For me Winter like the winter of our lives is a time of sleep to rejuvenate. I look forward perhaps too much to the time of transformation.. Fitting that you chose the picture of the Butterfly for its beautiful form is here but a short span, Weeks even.. And yet it dances and does what a butterfly does….

    We have got so caught up with the prospects of tomorrow, we forget to hold sacred the Now moments.. And as you rightly pointed out, the treasures of Nature to be found in each of them. Even as Autumn turns and things die back so too the berries begin to form and a time of plenty is here again…

    Life is a constant flow… Nature dies back and replenishes So too our spirits will be filled and renewed when that time for us to start again in some distant dimension.. 🙂

    Lovely to read your thoughts Alex

  6. Alex, I can’t picture you anxious in nature as you are so connected to it, but then maybe that’s why. I too have noticed leaves falling from the trees here and our flowers die within days of opening. We have been taking extra measures to ensure the wild animals visiting our field have plenty of food, even if it means letting them eat some of our plants. Water we aren’t having to worry about right now.

    Life is a circle, and while I can’t be buried directly into the ground, or without preservation my plan is to leave my body to science to learn what they can about my disorder then have my body cremated so my ashes can be spread.

    • Being connected to nature opens the self up to everything, including feelings. To be reminded of my own mortality by nature is better than a near miss with death, it is a less dramatic reminder to live life to the full.

      Disconnected people are blind to the change that is going on, but people like you and I do, we then have to deal with the feelings that arises from the changes we see. Part of my dread is down to a my unease of another long dark and cold winter, I do not want the warm long days to end, and I have been reminded of it by the changes, a knowing it is going to end.

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