As a young teacher of geography fieldwork I had the great fortune to work with an inspirational teacher (named Rick Cope, in case you are wondering). As we led groups of ‘A’ level Geography students up damp Cumbrian hills, Rick would gently impart his words and phrases of geographical wisdom. One phrase that sticks in my mind, and indeed one that I still use when teaching to this day is, “Water is a sorter”. As any good geographer understands when looking at sedimentary rocks, a distinct layering of different sediment sizes is often a sign that the sediment was deposited in a water environment. For those without a geographical bent, think of a child’s snowstorm globe; upon shaking there is lots of energy. When the shaking ceases the material being suspended in the water settles, arranging itself with the heaviest bits settling first .
Having a seven week old newborn son as well as a three year old daughter, I sometimes feel at the moment that I’m in one of those shaken up snowstorms. My settling comes in the form of my quiet morning sits, and when I’m very lucky, from an extended period of calm. This weekend I was lucky enough to spend some time tuning into the natural elements at Newborough Warren on Anglesey. As I sat on the sand dunes and watched the tide lapping on the expanse of beach below, something in me settled, calmed and accepted that whilst my life might be in flux, that at the same time everything in my life was just as it should be.
By sitting and settling I had come to an accommodation with myself, an acceptance of how my life is now at this moment and how it fits into the place of things. By dropping the energy of my internal environment and letting go of the busyness, things had settled. That’s not to say that there isn’t a great richness in the hurley burley of everyday life, but sometimes one needs the settling that comes from stillness. And if that happens from sitting next to the sea, then all the better. As Rick would say, “Water is a sorter”.