The first weekend that I walked the South West Coast Path in Jan 2019, the poet Mary Oliver had just died, and my social media feed was full of snatches of poetry and sayings of hers. If you haven’t heard of her before, you might recognise the oft-quoted “tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” from her poem, The Summer Day.
At a picnic lunch stop at Branscombe, Ben shared a poem that a friend had sent him, “Don’t hesitate”
It ends with the line “Joy is not made to be a crumb”. What truth. That first weekend walk brought me much joy; being out in the open air all day, watching Otto run 100m for every 10 that we walked, back and forth, sniffing bums and seeking out hidden corners of undergrowth, watching the grey blue ocean churning below the cliffs, and turning red at Budleigh Salterton, reconnecting with an old friend and singing as we walked.
I’d just come back from Oxford Real Farming Conference, where I’d attended a singing workshop with Three Acres and a Cow, sharing songs of land rights and protest. The songs had been beautiful and I was keen to learn them before they escaped my memory. I sang one to Ben and he suggested we try the harmony. “I can’t sing in harmony” I said. “Nonsense” he replied, and we sang and sang until sure enough, we could harmonise with each other. Ben started teaching me other songs too, and we strolled along singing loudly with big grins on our faces as other walkers looked on in surprise and encouragement.
The whole weekend seemed infused with joy, and I remembered what I had been missing, amidst work and having conversations about life, but occasionally forgetting to live it.
Joy is not made to be a crumb, and I resolved to make 2019 a year of joy, to recognise and pursue those things that brought me joy in abundance; the sea, the coastpath, singing, sharing with my friends, sleeping outside, cooking on campfires, and pursuing emerging dreams.