Thursday, 25 February 2021

A Vast Indifference

Sometimes the natural world tells us it doesn’t care. It offers a powerful, daunting yet fascinating impression of vast indifference. The open sea can do this if there are only a few people around. Or the huge bowl of a clear night sky, or a wide and lonely view of rolling hills where hardly anything stirs but a high buzzard circling silently over its hunting grounds.

Cities, towns shopping centres, offices, houses, pubs, cafes, busy streets. None of them create this effect, although there may be hints of it in the still silence of an ancient country church.

It’s a spiritual thing lying just beyond the easy assurance of familiar language, a reminder that one day we will be gone and the natural world doesn’t care and never did care. And maybe this is a good thing. It leaves open a reminder that we should pay attention to own cares and make sure they are at least worthy of the limited time we have.

In my experience this vast indifference can be found quite easily. Others may find it in different ways, but one or two of our walks offer huge views with hardly any people and often this is all it takes. It cannot be experienced indirectly though – certainly not through the media. Even thinking about the media in such a context seems to pollute something important, something we’ll never capture except personally.

Are there downsides to such an experience? Yes there are – the ceaseless wittering of political obsessives come across as infantile. That isn’t necessarily good because people who could do great harm have to be taken seriously. Sometimes it isn’t easy.


Ed P said...

Like you (it seems), I find great peace in Nature. Contemplating whilst feeding the ducks at the local park, studying the face of the moon, listening to birdsong, I relax and the beauty becomes more intense and I'm lost from the everyday.
Despite being single now (widowed), I feel great joy in all around and delight in the minuscule as much as the wide sky. Feeding the songbirds in my garden has become a daily pleasure: I fool myself some of the birds recognize 'the hand that feeds them'. And I'm trying out different seed mixtures, fat balls, meal-worms, etc., hopefully to attract more species. It's love without a human focus, but not diminished because of that.
I almost envy those whom can believe in sky things/earthly prophets, as I reckon they have more focus. But the life force itself needs no help in filling my heart.

Sam Vega said...

And right now is a great time of year to get back in touch with nature and its magnificent indifference. I always seem to feel it most when there are significant changes going on. The slow arrival of spring, for example, or the first chilly winds of autumn. Endless high summer or lengthy spells of rain or fog are not quite the same. I can find bad weather exhilarating, but it needs to be a bit blowy. Maybe it's the sense that something is actively going on, and which doesn't need me there even to appreciate it.

MrMC said...

Could not agree more, I love country walks, and have a few books on circular walks generally starting from a village church. We are lucky enough to be close to Herts and Beds open country, love the birdsong, especially larks.

I use to like Countryfile before it became tainted with politics and BAMES who I never, ever see in the countryside if we ever spot others on our walks, funny that.

A K Haart said...

Ed - I'm sorry to hear you are now on your own, but I'm sure you are right about love without a human focus and delight in the minuscule. We also enjoy sitting in the garden listening to the birds when there are virtually no human sounds, although round here that isn't always possible unless we go out into Derbyshire.

Sam - we can find bad weather exhilarating too. Mist and rain can be very atmospheric and early morning mist in particular can be beautiful even when it shrouds a dull town. Not long ago we put on the waterproofs and went for a pavement walk in the rain.

MrMC - my parents used to live in Hitchin so we've done some walks in Herts. A long time ago though. Unfortunately my hearing is no longer good enough to hear the larks although Mrs H tells me when they are around.

MrMC said...

I am quite near Hitchin, lovely town, there are villages such as St Pauls Walden, Charlton, Preston and Whitwell nearby that offer some nice walks