Easter puts the Pheonix rising from the ashes to shame: Crucified on Friday. Rested on Saturday. Rose on Sunday. But what happened on Monday? After all the miracles—the dead brought back to life, the angel moving the boulder from the tomb, the doubts of Thomas quashed—I guess that was the day people had to just get on with life. In some ways, it seems a bit anti-climactic. But, when you think about it, metaphorically, that is when the nitty-gritty, nuts and bolts of life begins: on Mondays.
Two weeks ago, I flew into London-Hethrow airport. The second I left the comfort of the Dreamliner and stepped into the passageway leading me toward the concrete building, I knew without any doubt that I was in the U.K.—not because of the cheerio accents or the fashion-forward men in tailored suits or signs that said “mind the gaps.” Yes, all of those things existed, but what brought my mind to align with my geographic location was the damp, cold air. I have never felt anything like it anywhere else. The air felt like a saturated wet sponge, and smelled like it, too. It permeated skin, flesh, and sinew, resting firmly in my bones. I shivered.
Finding the car-rental place wasn’t nearly as frightening as driving. And, by driving, I mean being a passenger. Leaving London during rush hour is gridlock. However, technically having gridlock would imply there is some kind a grid, which there is not. The whole of England is a giant spider web with London the epicentre, circled by the M25. Tentacles branch out in the form of round abouts—which are basically organized chaos (proof that the Brits share a common mind and are able to telepathically communicate as I did not witness one accident). One round about leads to another, to another, to another, until finally these circles reach the coasts. Our route, M25, A299, Thanet Way, Heart in Hand Road…
M-roads led to A-road, which eventually led to car-lined village roads—cars parked like a giant game of dominoes—bonnets to bonnets and boots facing boots with total disregard for the direction they faced. Finally, we arrived on hedge-clad country lanes, wide enough for half a car. My body reacclimatized to being shifted sharply to the left as we pulled over to let someone through, then thrown right as we rushed to the next junction to once again slide left, repeating the process.
The Italians have nothing on the Brits when it comes to carb consumption. I woke up to a typical breakfast of two oversized, over-processed whiter-than-white bread browned in a toaster on “crunchy cardboard” setting and a cuppa. A trip to Sainsbury’s saved me, where I purchased free range eggs, avocados and coffee to sustain me most mornings. Even their pudding had bread in it!
Sketchy internet at best. No internet at worst. I came prepared to work, but I simply can’t.
At first, I started walking, then later running, to refuel my introverted soul. Seven hundred square feet and three larger-than-life personalities can, at times, be overwhelming if daily self-care isn’t exercised.
My first walk took my breath away for two reasons: the beauty and the cold. I trundled down Bishopstone Lane, backyard chickens chatting and roof-top pigeons cooing, past the farmer’s field, past the Saxon-Shore foot path and on to the large clip-top field that leads directly to Reculver Tower, Roman ruins approximately 2 km away. I was nearly swept off my feet by the whipping wind. I was walking at the edge of the mouth of the Thames estuary where the English Channel meets the North Sea. I was uncertain if the damp chill that cut me in half was from the British landscape, the revenge of the French, or the north Scandinavian influence. Regardless, it was memorable.
There was a sign at the beginning of this “country park” put up by the region of Canterbury exclaiming that all dogs must be on a leash. In my two weeks here so far, I have yet to see a dog on a leash. Dogs run rampant, the pets untethered and their owners unapologetic. All breeds—and if one dog is good, ten must be better—Roxy, Poppy, Toffy or other fanciful double-syllabic names were being called constantly, however, rarely heeded. But, to be fair, even single-syllable words sound like two here-ah.
As the number of days increase, so do the numbers on the thermometer. I still wear a woolly hat and gloves some days, but the natives are in shorts, sunning themselves on the “beaches.” A beach, by the way, is a large mass of very large pebbles, some may even say rocks, beside the sea.
There is a rebirth in me. I start to run regularly. I have never felt quite so free. At first it is 4 km, then 5, 7, 8… At home, when I ran, a long time ago, I would bring dog spray and worry about traffic or untoward people. Here, in this tiny village, on a bike path beside the sea running towards absolutely stunning ruins, I have little fear. I will miss this. I am grateful for this incredible opportunity afforded few: footpaths, cliffs, sea, sun, stunning architecture and history I will never get at home. Most importantly, untethered freedom.
Next week, God willing, I will arrive back in Canada. I will have to get my head down and get to work. I will face the daily grind—books to publish, products to market, presentations to complete. It will be my metaphorical Monday.
I have a choice to make. Do I take this freedom, beauty, and opportunity with me, or do I leave it here? The miracles will be over, the experience done, the holiday complete.
This is the time when the rubber meets the road, real life begins. My patterns have been interrupted, catapulting me into rediscovering myself. The rest is up to me—to take this feeling back with me, integrating, assimilating, and applying me new-found perspective.
This is the meaning of Easter Monday: moving forward, but moving forward with new knowledge, new passion, new conviction.
Happy Easter, everyone!