The seats of the seven.
Beyond the cancer seas and into the menopause mountain
It was dank. I think in Scotland they would call this day a dreich day. A day filled with mist and cold and little sun. Not a day for an adventure for most, more a day of firesides, steaming drinks and good company. Still, I am a little contrary with my choice of adventure moments and this one called to me in no uncertain terms. Out, it said. Out you go into that unknown wood.
I pondered over my late afternoon tea as I noted the dimming light and sighed. I am no stranger to internal urgings that arise to guide me to natures hidden and lost ways. The hedges wide enough for fire moments aside a badger den. Or along the river under the willow, hid from the sight of all but the kingfisher, if you’re lucky. I know to listen to the call, for in it there is always a gift. An unexpected treasure to be found in the moments away from the madding crowd.
And so I set off. The misty lanes and shadow arms of wintery trees reached down to guide me, rendering even the most familiar roads new and mysterious. Have you ever had that sensation? Of being in a place you know so well and yet in certain moments, such as this, it is as if you were lost. As if this was a new land, deliciously unknown and your senses become sharper taking in the strangeness. I would wish that you do know this. I would wish that we all know this sensation regularly. I believe it is good to be humbled and tumbled out of our certainty at times.
Anyway, I travelled and found the unknown wood. It was only really unknown to me, a wood that a friend had recommended some weeks previous. A new place to unfold into. A place that had called me this day. Though to be fair by the time I had arrived it was as near to dusk as it could be before dark night lay its cloak on the land. Still, I was here and it seemed churlish to sit in my car, so I ventured out into the wide tree lined path.
The eerie gloom and bare branches set a very definite backdrop to my walk. Out in the distance I could hear a stream gurgling and gushing from recent rainfall. The mist was still thick and everything seemed held in some quiet magical spell. I, a lone heroine, walking the paths to troubling fates ahead. I shook my head at my train of thought and breathed in the gorgeous clear air. I laughed. Such a big imagination you have there Lys!
The mud underfoot made it hard going and I decided to find a clearing to do some Qi gong and then to head home. And lo and behold around the next corner I came upon a grass clearing. And in it stood seven benches all settled in a round, as if there should be a fire place in the midst. But as I wandered over I saw there was no fire place, just seven benches in a circle. I stood and surveyed the darkening forest around puzzled as to why they were there.
I stood in the centre and looked at each of the benches. Seven is such a mystical number. One aligned with magic and knowledge. And my imagination once again soared with fairy tales of a girl being lost in a forest and finding the seven benches. Each time she returns to the benches there is a different being there sat upon one of them, and they send her off on another wild goose chase. Until finally she arrives back at the benches again. Maybe that is a story I will write.
Or maybe it is to do with the seven ages of man from William Shakespeare’s As you like it. Jacques it would seem telling the audience and Duke Senior that unhappiness is a part of life and that we all go through certain stages. All the world is a stage and yet are we merely just players?
Or is our life as precious as it is short and capable of etching new hope and richness into the ages we are blessed with, should we live until a ripe old age? Or any age. I would like to believe tis a little more buoyant than Jacques would have us believe. I would like to believe there is good living to be done for us all, whether unhappy or happy.
I am in menopause, this much I know. And with it the changes to my life are mind bogglingly huge. As big as the breast cancer era of last few years, though different in their rhythm. It seems all of our lives are stitched together with the eras of our time on earth. The times of relationship, the times of solitude, of family, of health, of youth, of age, of death. Common enough themes that we can all recognise, though each of us plays them out differently. Those benches stand as hallmarks somehow, marking the different paths to those different eras. Necessary way markers and rest places before we enter the next fray.
How many of us get stuck on the benches, those times in between one part of our life and the other?
Or in the area in the centre of the benches, pondering which path to take next?
Or is it a beautiful necessity to take the time needed in those spaces, because after all, we could only do what we did, given what we knew. Hindsight is indeed a tantalising thing.
And so at this threshold, holding council to unknown lands ahead, as the mists creep and lace with the fingers of the coming night, I stand. The concrete certainty of those benches has had a profound effect upon me. As if I had chanced upon a metaphor or the first page of a new book. There I am in a place of magic.
I wonder if the benches will be there if I visit another day.
Or if they are a figment of my imaginings.
I smile as I leave.
There will always be a me that revels in adventures such as these, and there is the common thread running through my life, no matter what era or bench I sit upon.