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I don’t believe in mantra, I just believe in me, Yoko and me, that’s reality.

Early one morning I was reading the preface to Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, about how the novel is about things as they are. What people are actually doing, raw, real life. It chimed with what I’d been thinking. In the face of conspiracy theories, politics, online versus real life, my focus more than ever had become our real life here on the boat. Me and my husband, the cats, being on the boat, cooking and eating dinner. (The cats obviously don’t participate in cooking but you get my drift.)

Anyone who’s followed this blog for a while will know I am no stranger to exploring all the other stuff but right now that isn’t where I’m at. It may be partly due to everyone getting into the weird stuff- something about everyone doing something puts me off it. It’s definitely about wanting to distance myself from the nastier sides (not that I was ever there) and realising that there’s some weird crossover stuff happening where yoga types march with neo Nazis and somehow think it all makes sense. I watched with horror and sympathy all kinds of people getting lost in conspiracy theories/politics, sometimes to the great detriment of their actual lives. E.g. the people who followed online conspiracy theorists and stormed the Capitol, found it didn’t actually happen how they had expected and are now facing lengthy jail terms.

And I thought about myself, living in my head, and in a fantasy future dream world whilst being largely secluded from the actual day to day world. I thought about how I do so much typing that I have chronic pain in my shoulder, arms and wrists. Is that really being in tune with reality? I was reminded about reading in After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield about the people who had spent years in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, encouraged to only focus on the spiritual and neglect their physical health, then after years eventually leaving and going back to the everyday world with poor physical health.

And I thought about my job, where I’m not using all my skills or fulfilling my potential. I began wondering about stepping up again into a senior role like I had before. One evening my husband was idly looking at jobs and said ‘I’ll have a look for you.’ A moment later and he was reading out the perfect job. A week later and I’d had an interview, been offered the job and we’d found a marina to move to. It’s funny, the exact same thing happened to my neighbour. She’d been unhappy in her job for ages. One night her husband had gone to bed and she thought, I’ll just have a look what’s out there,’ and there it was, the perfect job. Hers isn’t quite as far so she’s going to commute, but the look of glowing happiness on her face was the same as mine.

I feel it’s my response to lockdown, we’ve been sequestered here in the countryside, not doing very much, for the best part of a year. The new marina is half an hour by train to London, about the same distance or less to Norfolk, and is in a busy location beside restaurants and a small supermarket, walking distance to bigger shops and with onsite marina facilities including launderette and showers.

It is a bit daunting to move from our idyllic linear rural mooring to being in a sardine marina mooring, but we are a few feet away from the towpath and a grassy area with squirrels and the edge of the canal where swans and geese come to be fed. And life! We went to check it out and the area was busy and buzzing and felt like Spring, and didn’t feel as Covid anxious- in more built up areas people just can’t keep out of each others way as they do where we live now- people cross the road more or less as soon as another person comes into sight. It almost felt as if life was normal there.

We are going to allow around ten to fourteen days to get down there- so the holiday we planned for May is actually coming sooner and will be more intense- a one hundred mile journey with over fifty locks. In the meantime, we are both working out our notices, buying bits and pieces like a new witch’s hat (chimney covering) and wheelbarrow wheel, fixing things on the boat, sorting out our stuff, and doing all the normal stuff that is due at this time for us- car MOT, tax and insurance and similar for boat.

Making the decision to commit to the new marina was anxiety provoking as it all happened so fast, but since it’s all been set I feel surprisingly calm. I’m really looking forward to the job. It represents not only the chance to use all my skills to the max and be fulfilled, but also the people are warm and genuine and I feel I’ll be able to be genuine too. I’ll be working in a mental health setting with people who are facing the most complex difficulties and I’m proud and honoured to have been chosen for this role. Of course I won’t be writing about it and it’s also why I’ve ‘anonymised’ my blog and Instagram.

I still intend to finish editing my travel/spiritual memoir book, and to post a blog once a month. I expect me or my husband will post pictures of our great narrowboat journey, follow us on Instagram travelswithanthony or always_evolving_ever_real

Thank you very much for reading

Rachel