When Alice went down the rabbit hole or when the children stepped through the wardrobe they found themselves in a completely new and strange situation; unexpected; unimaginable; unbelievable perhaps. Their new world offered adventure and danger but also hope, intrigue and escape. The worlds of Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) and CS Lewis have become familiar literary escapes for generations of children and adults alike, taken in by the fantasy of a different time, space and existence, far away from the seeming familiarity of our own world. And yet we can have the most escapist of experiences in some of our most familiar of environments.
The camomile road was not long, perhaps only a couple of hundred metres, but the aroma was overwhelming and the sight spellbinding. I knew straight away that this was a rabbit hole or wardrobe moment. I couldn’t help but smile as I walked along the track, dispersing yellow and white as I went, thoughts escaping and falling into the state of the moment, almost meditative, but not quite contemplative. As the wind brushed the petals apart, granting access through to the ground below the sun cast its rays to the earth, blessing this moment. On one side of the track was a clover field, brightened further by the sight of rapidly growing spring lambs. On the other was a field of barley, the stems whispering to each other as they flowed about in the wind, soon to be an ocean of gold. It was the camomile that stole the show though, how could it not with its characteristic smell and its timeless charm.
A few months ago this track was waterlogged and a muddy mess, tractors passing over with farmers offering expletives to the heavens to complain of the situation they had been granted. It had been a terrible winter with damp giving rise to torrential downpours followed by freezing temperatures and then floods. In this moment though it was as if that hadn’t even taken place. All that mattered was the here and now. We are so caught up in thinking about the future or dwelling on the past that the present almost always gets forgotten. We don’t usually do things for the sake of the present but act in order to impact on our future. Sometimes, just sometimes, it is healthy to focus on the moment.
In Daoist philosophy yin and yang (陰陽) represent an existence whereby forces or happenings that are seemingly opposite in nature are actually complementary and interdependent. Darkness cannot exist without light, fire and water, heat and cold, sound and silence. The rollercoaster of life similarly cannot be wholly positive or negative. Each is bound to the other, supporting as well as damaging. Perfection should not be the request as when one quality builds too far the other will need to be satisfied. This is true in nature and results in the constant of the changing tides or the flow of the seasons. Whilst summer might be fully yang, winter will be wholly yin, and the bounce back continues. This changing experience allows us to appreciate moments, if we choose to identify and reflect on them.
The camomile road will not last. In a matter of months it will return to its state of vulgar wetness, more yin than yang, and yet in this moment that does not matter. Recognising it for what it is at this time gives true value and in turn gives value to ourselves.