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Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain

By Richard Farmer

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We had just sat down at the table, my skin tingling from a day in the sun leaving traces of its heat and the roll of the surf. He said it suddenly, “How are you dis evenin Papa?”

He stood on Marigold's side of the table, looking at me directly. On the darkened veranda, softly lit for the evening meal, I could hardly see him. He stepped further towards me as I hesitated.

He was tall with a broad face, the creases went really deep in his face when he smiled. His name was Joshua and we had talked to him off an on over the week. We liked him. He was older than the other waiters and carried in his African genes
a wisdom and grace that we immediately responded to. It was a hot night and I could feel the whisper of the overhead fan above me. “I am fine thank you” I replied.

He just looked at me. Pen poised over his order book. He waited a few heart beats and then said. “No you are not - how are you Papa?”

I felt immediately angry and confused. Waiters don’t do that! And yet I felt the shallowness of the answer compared with how I really felt. I had been thinking about the death of my mother and feeling the loss of her. Feeling too the immense comfort of being back home on African soil. To be in Africa is to be reminded of her.

I looked up at those black eyes looking back at me, the sound of waves on the beach, the murmur of other guests, the odd laugh.

“You’re right Joshua” I said. “I feel sad”. “Oh so sorry Papa. What would you like to order?” It was how he said it. He really meant it. I felt embraced, understood and touched in such a simple way. The block that I had put up, in me dissolved. The front. The brave face of ‘I am on holiday’. Instead I felt the reality of my feelings, all of them and once again lived in the moment.

Embrace Tiger Return to Mountain.

This morning I was out walking as I do with my dog most mornings. It was a really fresh morning. This summer the countryside is looking so beautiful. It is so beautiful sometimes I cannot believe what I am looking at. A herd of horses on the horizon. The simple but unmistakable clump that are the trees far away on May Hill. The snake of the river in the valley below glinting the morning sun. A flight of swans. The greenness of it! The aliveness of it. And yet I felt colourless.

The contrast was almost too much to bear. But Joshua taught me something that night. In another time I would have pretended to myself. Or, the sight of so much colour on a day when there is none in me would have made me even worse.

So I stood. I took my natural step. I faced the valley and all its beauty. I stood with my colourless self. I owned it all.

I began to move, letting the pull of these two currents draw out of me the movements that were required. I found myself breathing and moving - the gestures teasing apart the colourless strands to let in the light. I found my gestures opening up the canopy of depression so that the colour could come in. And it did.

Soon it was enough. I stopped. I breathed a new breath and whilst nothing had changed, I was different.

I walked away, the two made one.