My walk this morning wasn’t the usual. The sky was filled with low-hanging clouds that were moving and changing rather swiftly. It was alive with possibility and would be any child’s delight, if they could spend the entire day lying on their backs, discovering different shapes and magical friends in the sky. As I write this, I look out my window to see a flying dog on his way to something fun I’m sure.
I arrived in my park and was greeted by a big, open field with not a dog or friendly face in sight. I was completely alone and it was only one hour after the school bell had rung so I wondered if there was something I didn’t know.
My meditation was interrupted this morning by the inquisitive voices of the children arriving at school after a long break. There was much to discuss. I could hear them commenting about the various changes to the playground area and they seemed delighted with the renovations. I have been watching the ‘old become the new’ over the holidays as there have been lots of busy bees who have been hard at work to make the playground special for when school term begins again. Anyway, I will have to get back into my very early morning routine with my meditation so I can find silence, but I’ve enjoyed lying in for a little longer, while everyone has been off gallivanting and having a fun holiday.
Anyway, back to my walk. I took to the field with my headphones on and found my pace and groove when all of a sudden I began to feel something that I hadn’t felt for a while. I started to feel a little uncomfortable. I reached the beginning of my second lap and noticed that a black car was now parked in the parking lot and a man was sitting next to it, on his phone. He wasn’t looking at me, but his presence felt slightly ominous, for no good reason. I decided to just carry on and not give in to the insecurity.
I was drawn back to another time, when I was in Australia. I was looking for somewhere to go for a run and was told that there was a nice athletics track down the road from where I was staying. I arrived at the track to find that there were only two people running around the track, two young guys, just jogging and chatting and paying no attention to me. I began my workout and found my pace was a little faster than theirs, so I caught up and passed them and this continued for a while. My body was happy to be moving and challenging itself, but my mind was sprinting me into a slightly darker dimension. It became clear to me that I was beginning to feel a little exposed and slightly insecure running along the track, alone, being the only woman there. I talked myself into all kinds of outcomes and predicaments and as a result, my ‘fun time’ was brought to an abrupt halt and I stepped off the track leaving the darkness behind.
Today was no different. As I was about to curve round into my third lap, I looked at the car and saw that the man was no longer there, but the window was down on the passenger side. I took my headphones off, continued walking and as I arrived at the far side of the field, I exited out of the gate and into the field next door. I told myself I was being ridiculous! I walked towards a tree on the edge of the field and decided it needed a hug. I BLOODY NEEDED THE HUG, NOT THE TREE…
I hadn’t been under my tree for long when a white truck drove onto that field and began driving very slowly, straight towards the tree. I undid myself from the trunk and took a little detour onto the next field, below that field. Was I going mad here? I looked back nonchalantly to see the vehicle had stopped and the two men sitting in the front were casually chatting to one another, probably not even aware of me and my silly suspicions. I walked once around the lower field, back up to the same tree once they had driven off and then ‘escaped’ out the side fence into the road that would take me back to the house.
One thing is certain, my mother is not going to like this post as she is constantly worried about my safety. I’m often asked by friends whether I feel safe here and my reply is affirmative and clear. This wasn’t a simple issue of feeling safe or not. I think it alerted me to something that another friend had spoken of recently which relates to being in fight or flight mode a lot of the time in South Africa. It occurred to me that no matter where I am, I’m constantly checking the environment I’m in and am taking stock of the people and situations around me so I can make sure I’m in control. It’s instinctive.
The field I walk around is extremely safe and surrounded by houses. There is no reason to feel at risk and until now, I haven’t felt any inclination towards any concerns about my well-being, whether there is one dog walker or more. I immediately realized what was happening.
In the last couple of days I have heard a few stories of woman and young girls being abducted, attacked and raped. I am well aware that unfortunately this happens all over the world, but these have taken place back in South Africa and this news has devastated me. I can only think they are in my subconscious mind now and so took up some space in my head. It would have been so much nicer to be able to enjoy my walk and relish being out in nature as I always do, but this is the world we live in and I can’t help but feel the loss, confusion and concern for friends and loved ones.
My heart goes out to anyone who is affected by the devastation and harshness that is sometimes inflicted upon human beings. I wish our world could be as beautiful and light as the clouds were in my sky today.