As I sit at my window, embraced by in the morning sun, I lethargically ponder the question of existence. I do this as I, with calm joy, view the sea just down the road. The almost-daily sun and the ever-present sea combine to create a contemplative mode of feeling and thinking. Even when the sky is overcast, and the sea is rough, when the white caps become the lashing tail-ends of thunderous seas, and the horizon blends into both sky and sea in a grey-blue misty blur, my mood remains contemplative. How else could it be when the mystery of existence can be examined safely in this cocoon of comfort.
Nature, in all its and ever-changing forms, reflects the influence of its creator. I, also reflecting the influence of that same creator, am therefore in vibrant harmony with nature.
I do, however, accept that it was only when I moved, in retirement, to the Eurobodalla coast, that I could so freely and continuously identify with both nature and our shared Creator. This is a strange feeling. I am simultaneously in tune with the here-and-now, the material world, and the where-is-it world of spirituality. This is, however, not surprising as materiality is only a product of spirituality.
Hence, my small, cheap, fibro-and-tin home, flanked (but at a little distance) by beach, by beach, by beach, well off the traffic flow of the highway, and equally well off the preferred routes of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, is quiet – and therefore peaceful. The only sounds I hear are the waves and the birds; but these can be sporadic. The waves talk to me through the roar of a raging sea at the south-eastern and, often apparently simultaneously, the north-western fronts. The birds who use my many trees as park benches and who feed off the flowers produced by my extensive shrubbery, mind their own business – unless I venture too close to them.
Then, they shout at me to go away, and warn their friends about the interloper. How cheeky! The exception is the chatty and beautiful rainbow lorikeet, which is really very sociable. Occasionally, when I am able to strike the correct tonal note in a whistle emulating the call of the lorikeets to their friends, their chatter will cease, whilst the birds seek the stranger. The magpies too accept me, They allow me to share one of their many foraging stations, which happens to be my back yard. My bird bath needs filling daily; I must be surrounded by the cleanest birds in the district.
All the other varieties of bird life, whose names I do not know (because they do not want to be introduced to me), join with the lorikeets and magpies in using a young native frangipani tree near the bird bath as a slippery slide. This has stunted the tree, but I cannot in my heart remove it.
Embedded in this cocoon of nature, either peacefully quiescent or robustly and rapturously vital, I am able to seek that which was taught to me as a youth – that, near the end of one’s life, when one has completed one’s major familial obligations, one might withdraw from the hurly-burly of life, and to meditate; and to seek to understand the meaning of existence. This is not to ignore any residual obligations – whether inherited, imposed or chosen – in relation to matters horticultural, sporting or social. Does it not make sense to prepare for, or to anticipate, what might be on the Other Side of Earthly Existence; and to atone spiritually for those of one’s sins for which forgiveness is available?
Looking back over my life, I know that I did not choose to move to my little home in this delightful place near the sea. I know that, whilst I was attracted to this particular locality, I did not like the house which somehow I subsequently bought! I therefore know that I was sent here – to give and to learn. To give is to serve one’s community as a volunteer. To learn requires a contemplative life.
For a contemplative life, one’s home might desirably be like a cave, albeit a comfortable one. So, as my soul is refreshed daily by what I see, hear, feel, and absorb from my ‘cave’, I reach out to my Creator, the cause of all things material and spiritual. My home at the Eurobodalla coast is where the heart remains healthy, and the soul (which is said to be located in the heart) searches the Cosmos.
(This essay was written as a message for my family and my few friends – Raja Arasa Ratnam.)