First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 4 – Oases of Calm

Wherever I go in the cave there are constant reminders of the proximity and presence of the sea.

A sense of renewal in that every tide refreshes, rearranges, cleans out and often deposits something new.

A sense too of danger: the cave is only accessible at certain stages of the tide, and to stay too long would be to invite disaster. Thus generating a feeling of both permanence and impermanence at one and the same time.

Wherever I have traveled, the sea, or connections with the sea, have provided me with places of sanctuary, places for recovery, places where I can restore myself to an equilibrium in tune with the ebb and flow of nature.

I have accumulated these places since childhood. In the cave I store memories of them, memories which I can call upon when the world, in the present moment, becomes insecure.

Whenever the opportunity arises I re-visit those places; aware that the intervening period may have changed their contours, but aware too that their essence will remain the same.

For example a place by a lough with a road providing access and a path leading along the lough side and away from civilisation. There is a rocky foreshore and an unending supply of stones. Watching the infrequent ships as they make their way up and down the loch it is easy to forget that the city at its head was once a thriving port which hosted a busy ship-building industry. To fast forward through the previous fifty years provides an indication of significant change. Yet the place retains a permanent feeling of calm. It is a place for solitude, it is a place for picking up stones and lobbing them forward, waiting for the satisfying plop as they drop into the water, or for skimming them idly across the surface counting with satisfaction each skip across the water. It is still possible there to watch a ship go past and to wait, with patience, for the ripple from its wake to reach the shore.

In another place, where the contours of the cliff face alter from year to year as the power of the sea takes its toll on the fragile structure of the land. Where once a house stood proud on the cliff top there now exists an empty space. It is easy to sit on a peaceful day by the mirror surface of the sea and find it difficult to believe that it can wreak such destruction. Yet on a different day the waves break across the pier and their sheer irresistible power leaves me considering my rightful place within the universe.

Or again on a different sea. A long stretch of sand, clean and at certain times of the year almost empty of people. In my country we call such a place a strand. And looking out across the sea there is a knowledge that the next landfall is thousands of miles distant. In that place, standing watching the waves break unrelentingly upon the strand, each wave seeming bigger than the previous one and each wave reaching a height well above a person’s head, there is a sheer hypnotic power generated by those waves. It is in the constant movement, the constant repetitive noise. That power has an attraction, a calling perhaps, which can generate a desire to walk into the waves and keep walking right out into eternity.

These places, and many more, provide the oases, the safe places, into which I can retreat and restore myself. These places, at those times, are mine and mine alone. There is no power in the world which can take them from me. I have accumulated these places over the years, each one adding to my ability to restore calm to both me and to the ocean which exists within my soul.

You too have these places within you, and as you explore your cave of truth they will become available to you.

for those of you who prefer the spoken wordΒ  –Β


20 Responses to “First I Dreamt the Journey – Part 4 – Oases of Calm”

  1. I find this section of the boook reassuring and cleansing. It is good to arrive at a place where I can pause and reflect. I can sit here for as long as I need to restore the equilibrium you talk about.

    I can easily get so bogged down with the daily “trudging the road to happy destiny” that I can forget to stop for a while, and also to give myself some credit for where I have come after years and years of painful struggle.

    I can take your very vivid description of the sea into my oasis and use it as a visualisation for meditation, something I am still learning to do, but there is progress.

    Lots of love



    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Christine,

      I had not looked on this section of the book quite as you describe it so I am delighted that it puts you in that place.

      We do need to be prepared to take time out and reflect or meditate. Meditation, like anything else, requires practise but I have always found it worthwhile. I have even used it in the past to reduce my blood pressure!! πŸ™‚

      Lots of love

  2. This cave, an ancient place to dwell and be safe. Very good chapter!

    In my mind, I always think of, and create, houses, churches, caves, to find shelter from disturbing thoughts. I feel right at home πŸ™‚

  3. thanks for this, great read

  4. the metaphors are palpable I am enjoying your trip through the cave… and the sea is always a place of respite…

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Delighted to have you along on my trip through the cave Katherine πŸ™‚

      And yes, the sea is a wonderful source of respite for me

  5. beautiful, David … know how the ocean can be restorative. enjoyed the description of the loch as have never been. we had a ‘silver strand beach’ …. oh, it was pretty lengthy and empty most times … though toward later years the parking lot became ridiculously crowded.

    lough is a term you don’t see too much …. and even spellcheck set to UK … doesn’t pick up on it. (the system i’m on is a linux and it thinks i’m in england for some reason….lol) i can’t get my head to recall hearing the term before — though a little familiar. nice use of context w/that, because can then tell that it’s a shaping of shorline of some sort. almost sounds like a type of jetty ….

    • belfastdavid Says:

      *Big Smile* – Those memories of “silver strand beach” can never be taken away from us – I often close my eyes and allow myself to drift there – allow myself to feel the breeze and taste the sea. I always come back relaxed when I have allowed myself to do that. πŸ™‚

      “Lough” is a variant spelling of the word loch. It is used commonly in Ireland and occasionally in the north of England. So in Ireland we have for instance Lough Neagh, Lough Foyle, Lough Erne and of course Belfast Lough

      • isn’t the language interesting? makes me think of how a ‘lake’ is then simply a part of the ‘sea’ that is “locked” away. but then, lough could be close to “low” which is a “low spot of the land” or place where water collects in the form of a lake. when i read poetry such as Burns — (my grandma had a book in the original text) — there is an understanding from the inherent lilt that you get without needing the exact application of the words.

        in fact, i prefer “gang aft aglay” to the ‘explanation’ of “goes oft astray” …. there are slight differences in the meaning that make a difference. i would interpret as “gathers after-the-fact as wrong” but i think the original meaning is closer to “becomes a clusterfuck” lol ….

      • belfastdavid Says:

        *Laughing Out Loud*

        I love Eileen the connections you are making with language here – We have in the North of Ireland a “Vanishing lake” I tried to take pictures the last time I was there, but it was vanished the whole time. I would like to have put up pictures of it in both states. But it is always referred to as a lake and never a lough – I know not why!! πŸ™‚

        As for “gang aft aglay” I suspect your interpretation of the meaning is spot on!! πŸ™‚ “Clusterfuck” is as far as I know, an American term – but it does resonate with me!! πŸ™‚

  6. Hi David,

    I do just love part 4. It is a deep breath that comes with a smile everytime I read it and I can’t help but recall the cover photograph of “Walking into Eternity” everytime I read or hear the lines
    “That power has an attraction, a calling perhaps, which can generate a desire to walk into the waves and keep walking right out into eternity.”

    Oases of Calm re-ignites for me the restorive peace and calm I feel each time I find myself by the ocean.
    I am always reminded that nothing is permanent, all things pass. Nothing demonstrates this better than large waves cascading upon a cliff face! πŸ™‚

    All the beaches I frequent are different in their shape, amount of sand, rocks and buildings yet each place equally generates an energy that really touches me deep down leaving me feeling cleansed and ready to walk back into life. πŸ™‚

    Oases of Calm for myself really is the heart of guided meditiation. Through your memories relating how you felt in those places you guide the reader back to those places and good feelings within themselves.
    It really was a treat to be able to close my eyes and just listen… πŸ™‚

    That said getting to here to say all that has been a challenge and Part 4 truely have been an “oases of calm” as I begin my week. πŸ™‚

    Thankyou! πŸ™‚

    I was glad to read that your muse is enjoying herself and that you had a good time at the poetry editing workshop. I hope your week is one that will continue to be inspiring. πŸ™‚


    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Tikarma,

      The poem from which the title “Walking into Eternity” was taken was an attempt to amalgamate all those different places by the sea into one poem. This time I was able to explore all of them separately.
      It is perhaps interesting that my dental hygienist, who I have to visit regularly, has a blown up copy of that picture framed and on the wall of her surgery. It is in a position where it catches the sun coming in the window and the colours change as the light changes. She says it draws a lot of comment. πŸ™‚

      The ocean is such a comfort and inspiration for me that I tend to believe it is so for everyone πŸ™‚
      And I am delighted that you were able to use my words to allow yourself to go to your own memories and your own places – that is the whole intention – it is so pleasing to know that it can work that way

      As regards “Closing your eyes” to listen I have been considering ways to do the videos so that there is no picture, just sound – perhaps I will record one with the lens cap left on the camera!! πŸ™‚

      My muse is indeed enjoying herself – more poems to be posted shortly

      I do hope you are having a good week and have not been too badly affected by the aftermath from the cyclone.


      • Hi David,

        I’m not surprised that the picture draws a lot of comment it is a very striking image. It has certainly left it’s impression on my mind. πŸ™‚

        *LOL* re: leaving the lens cap on. I’m exploring slideshows to go with my poetry. Maybe that is something that would work for you too? Then it’s just a matter of collecting together associated images, which in my cases is proving a little tricky…*lol* but hopefully it will work. It may work for you too. πŸ™‚

        I’m very biased with your work becasue I feel very at home within it relating strongly to the ocean. It is such a special place for me as well. πŸ™‚

        re: cyclone. It merged with another weather system so we recieved an afternoon of strong wind and rain but that was all. We are all well and safe here. πŸ˜‰

        I hope you are having a most pleasant week. πŸ™‚


      • belfastdavid Says:

        Thank you Tikarma πŸ™‚

        Affinity to the sea is so much part of me that I don’t even question it any longer. Also, having been brought up in Belfast, I find I have an affinity to other ship building cities in this country – Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow. The ship-building is mostly gone but the affinity is still there. πŸ™‚

        As regards “lens cap” I did think of directing the camera at a painting and just having that on the screen when I read. The problem with that is that I am then giving the reader an image when what I really want to do is let them create their own images. Perhaps I will just point the camera at a blank wall!!! πŸ™‚

        I am delighted you are all well and safe.

        You take care and have a good week


  7. I am enjoying these posts, David. I seem to get something unexpected each time I read, especially in conjunction with your comments/replies.

    As you know, mountains stir me in a similar way that the sea stirs you. For most of us, it is some part of our world that seems immovable, and timeless–refuge from a quick-change society.

    This YouTube link is not working. I went via another route. The videos do add charm to the words. Perhaps it is your Irish accent, but I suspect it does have more to do with the smile in your eyes. It is really good to see you looking happy.

    Take care,

    • belfastdavid Says:

      Thank you Shirley,

      The replies I am getting are enhancing my own understanding of the book – I am delighted with them πŸ™‚

      We all do need those places where we can retreat from the pace of the modern world and restore ourselves. And we do need to make the time to do that. Hint! hint! πŸ™‚

      I am not sure why your link was not working – it seems OK when I do it. I have some more videos pre-recorded but am not sure what to do after that. As I said to Tikarma I would really like to have a blank screen so that there is nothing to distract from the words. We shall see.

      You take good care of yourself


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