An instinctive smile

‘The musicians sat in a relaxed circle just in front of the audience…I looked around and it seemed that the entire audience was smiling…The kind of instinctive smile that says everything is just too perfect for words.’

– Review of Methera performing at the Bath International Music Festival

The other day I went for a walk and I saw the seven white deer again.  They were white in the sunlight from a distance, and then they turned light brown closer up.  In May I’m sure it was eight and then I heard shooting in the night and I was sure they had been killed in the legal cull.  I haven’t seen them since.  It felt so good to see them again.  They had survived!

It was a charmed moment, the kind that gives rise to an instinctive smile.  I went for a walk, I didn’t really know where I was going, I kept changing course.  Now I know the area well enough not to get lost, that makes it easier and harder.  I cheat myself by making the walk shorter if I feel tired.  So at the midpoint of the walk as planned, I turned away to go further and then felt too tired, so turned around just in time to see her again.  The woman with the two dogs.  My heart juddered.  I last met her recently when I was trespassing on her land.  Not a good start…plus I had been on my phone – not something I often do when walking – and sitting down!  It had been such a beautiful warm day, not a good way to meet someone and get thrown off their property!

She was American too as was the friend I was speaking to on the phone.  We’d all been here for over 30 years.  I had been embarrassed by this coincidence, maybe somehow it made it worse (an inditement of the American character!), but I braved it out and made my way to the legal footpath as quickly as possible, with the woman and her dogs trailling behind, firmly escorting me off their land.

Fortunately on this second occasion I was on a legal footpath and so I was able to take in my landholder and I found I liked her.  We discovered we had other coincidences of connection, not least both sharing a link to the A of her name – hers close and through marriage, mine distant and by association.  And she expressed interest in coming to my yoga classes.  Without discussing it, we felt we had a similar relationship to being in England for all these years.  I felt I’d found a friend.

I will probably never coincide with her on this isolated walk again but – no matter.  Twice in as many weeks is good enough.

I had delayed my walk, and so I met the lady and the deer.

Martin's centre, circle dancing, 12 October 2011 - photo by Chris Hill

So I went for a walk again a couple days later in some snatched time.  I knew I couldn’t have the good luck to coincide with her again, so I decided not to go that way, and this time I saw the deer much sooner.  I think there were eight of them, possibly nine.  Again they were white in the sunlight, then they ran off behind the hedges.  I felt uplifted by the sight and I knew something good was about to happen.

Regrettingly, I had to shorten my walk to get back.  As I walked towards home, I saw the neighbour I had not yet met, despite living here for more than three years.  She was raking gravel in her drive, deeply absorbed in her task, it was a Zen moment.  I was reminded of the story of the man in the garden of a Japanese temple raking leaves, and when he finished his task it was time to start again.

I walked by and almost home and then I found myself turning around almost involuntarily.  I felt I wanted to go and say hello to her and talk to her about my yoga classes.  The lady wanted to come, perhaps the neighbour would too.  I hesitated to interrupt her and I was almost next to her before she turned around.  The most amazing conversation followed.  Why had I left this three years to happen?  The timing must be right now, she invited me in for tea, we talked about yoga, the meaning of her name (deep beautiful eyes of a deer).  I felt I was meeting Madhu.  She gave advice without advising.  She spoke of reaching for the rose through the thorns, reaching more as the thorns sank deeper.  I told her about the monkey placing its paw in the coconut and unable to get it out when it grasped the nut, only freed by letting it go.  We understood each other.  It was very strange and gave rise to another instinctive smile.

It was a Methera moment.

Yan, tan, tethera, methera….methera means four in Lancashire sheep-counting language.  I discovered Methera a couple weeks ago due to another happy moment of timing.  Anne, a music friend, had written to me about them and then I found that they were performing very close to where we would be three days later – this was extraordinary since they almost never perform.  One lives in Sweden, another in Canada, and two here.  We made our way to the church just off Salisbury Plain, and found ourselves sitting in a semi-circle of chairs in a church with the quartet moving round in a little tight circle inches away.  They played some of the most amazing music I have heard for a long time, old tunes and their own compositions.  They exuded energy and life.  I cannot stop listening to Oak Hill by Miranda Rutter, which so captures the longer steep ascent of a hill and the more gentle descent.  The beautiful texture of the strings, especially when the cello and viola come in deeply towards the end, is heart-wrenching every time.  Another instinctive smile!

‘It was a yearning for traditional music to be heard through the voice of the string quartet that compelled Methera into existence.  It quickly became clear that Methera was about a meeting of musical minds.  Four individual musical characters with our different stories to tell; the cohesive structure of the string quartet gives us freedom to indulge in tradition and rebel against convention.  The tunes we choose to play, both traditional and newly composed, are those that enchant us.  It feels like they thread their way into the tapestry of the string quartet and yarns such as these emerge…’

Lots of synchronicity at the moment.  Just when I feel something, there is evidence of it being true or happening.  Some of this is on the internet!  It may be hard to distinguish fact from fiction.  I am learning that my intuition is ever more trustworthy.  Factually it may not be 100% right, but the spirit moves in the right direction.

As Madhu said the day after I met my neighbour, ‘I am but a vessel through which he came into being….he belongs to the universe…and I have to let go…’

This entry was posted in American character, connections, friendships, Jung, music, walking, yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to An instinctive smile

  1. souldipper says:

    When life unfolds without my prompt, I feel unprecedented oneness. Thanks for this unfolding.

  2. Sitting in the Drs waiting room and enjoying being transported by tales of deer and smiles and zen moments 🙂 !

  3. Dody Jane says:

    Lovely piece. As always, I have to tell you I envy you your walks and environment. I love that you seem to have found a friend of similar circumstance. But, I always wonder if friends found at this time in life “stick” as well as those we find when we are younger. I am always hopeful that I will find a new friend to walk with. I live on a university campus. At the back of the campus is a sweet, wooded three par golf course maintained for the athletic department of the university and I walk back there on the weekends. I would like to walk every day – but fear walking in the dark, at the back of the campus where there are no people. It would be nice to find a walking friend.

    I am cheered to hear about your deer. When I visit my cottage in Wisconsin, I am always looking for deer in the woods as I drive down the little road that leads to the island. I find that I am seeing them regularly now, whereas when I was a child it was a rare treat. This is a catch 22 because while it is fun to see them come to the edge of our shore and take a drink, I realize this means their habitat is getting smaller and smaller. I would love to see your white deer.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving!

    • karin says:

      Hello and happy Thanksgiving! – I’m glad my post has overlapped with this date.
      I do agree with your comment about friends made later in life not always ‘sticking’ in the same way as friends made early in life. However, some do. I think perhaps we become pickier and more rigid – or is it more discriminating and discerning? – with age, and this may make it harder for real friendships to form. Maybe…enjoy your pies. I am off to a home concert, a good (by coincidence) way to celebrate Thanksgiving. No doubt I will be the only one there quietly celebrating!

  4. Dody Jane says:

    P.S. !!! I am attaching a link to ‘The Goat Rodeo Sessions” with Yo Yo Ma. I have heard snippets on NPR and I think you would enjoy it – I am going to download to my iPhone –

  5. Madhu Sameer says:

    Wonderful writing. Very peaceful and peace inducing.

    And oh,what can I say….except, thanks for remembering…:)



  6. karin says:

    Thank you – for all our connections and synchronicities.

  7. Chris says:

    I love this. Peace and calm and friendship and quiet smiles. All so welcome in a troubled world and a difficult patch of my life

    Your meeting with the A lady creates a reminiscent smile. Many years ago our dachshund found a way under the fence and took off into the countryside. She was found in a neighbouring field being held up by an irate farmer who had fortunately spotted her in his crop before he ran over her with a huge sraying machine. He was not amused to have his work interrupted and gave me the benefit of his anger. A couple of days later I attended a meeting and found I was sititing next to him. But mutual apologies and smiles and all was well. We didn’t become friends but we learnt to respect each other as working colleagues through many more meetings.

  8. Viv says:

    Beautiful. I could see what you saw, so very clearly, especially the deer.
    It is so often these chance, serendipitous happenings that bring us the most valuable lessons.
    Thank you.

    • karin says:

      I am finding that these chance serendipitous happenings bring some of the happiest lessons, yet there are lessons everywhere. Not always comfortable. But being open to them feels good. More of my lessons learning to come…

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