09 February 2010

Stood there

You don’t have to go out the door
to know what goes on in the world.
you don’t have to look out the window
to see the way of heaven.
the farther you go, the less you know.

So the wise soul
doesn’t go, but knows;
doesn’t look, but sees;
doesn’t do, but gets it done.

Looking Far from Ursula Le Guin's interpretation of The Tao Te Ching


He has stood here a very long time. Some might go as far to say that he has stood here all along and that he had never really stood anywhere else but this very spot but I know that is not the case. It is not difficult to see how he is now a part of this place. His feet are sinking into the ground. A chemistry teacher could tell you how, as a matter of fact, at an atomic level the particles from his shoes are actually diffusing into the particles that make up the naked earth.

He now looks like a natural part of the landscape yet hundreds of people stop by as if he is a curiosity to be pondered on. A side show freak. A circus performer without a circus. And no routine. He just stands there facing the white crested waves below.
Head slightly lowered. Eyes half closed.
Just how long he will remain is the real issue. Sometimes I wonder if he is making some form of statement. Others have told me they feel that he is incapable of anything else. Crippled by the reality of modern life.

I asked him once if he was making a statement or not and he said nothing.
He made no statement

He makes no obvious protest. He offers no reaction when people poke him, kick him, spit on him or pick up lumps of sheep shit and throw them at him. Once, I came by every day for a week and there was the same piece of sheep shit perched on his cheek bone. Each day it slipped a little bit further down his face. It was horrible. By the end of the week there was a tiny trail of brown leading down to his upper lip and then I presume the shit fell onto the ground.

What could posses a man to allow that to happen to himself?

Maybe it is a test of concentration. A form of deep meditation. Maybe he is serving penance for some unspeakable crime or sin.

I know someone who knew him before he decided to stand like a statue on this windy cliff top with the sheep. They said he was normal enough. They said he had a reasonable job. That he liked to go hiking around the coastline and read books. They said that they usually saw him on the bus. They said they never really conversed but he was always polite and said “hello.”

Well this person was on the bus the day he came out here. They said that on that day he offered no “hello” or even nod of acknowledgement. Not even a raised eyebrow or slight smile. They said he was sitting on the bus and that was that. He just sat down and stayed there. Staring into space. When the bus reached the last stop, a the village of Rhosilli on the tip of the Gower Peninsula it took the bus driver nearly an hour to convince him to vacate the bus.

Then he stepped off, walked a few steps through the wet muddy field on this wind swept cliff top and ended up here.

And here he remains.

Now this place would just not seem right without him. He is a fixture like the dry stone-wall dividing the fields and the old boat house on the edge of the cliff.

Of course his mother and father have been out many times to try and talk some sense into him but he remains stoic in his silence. I think he has a girlfriend as well because this girl comes out at least twice a week to check if he is ok. She can usually be seen at first comforting him and making sure he is healthy but by the end of her visit she is usually shouting and bawling at him, asking him how he can be so uncaring towards those that love him. He remains in his fixed poise staring out to sea every time.

I often wonder about him when the sun has gone down or when a storm front comes in off the Atlantic. I wonder how he survives. Why does he even bother going on living? If he has given up on everyone and everything else why not give up on the remaining faculties of life? I don’t know… it just seems he is prolonging his and everyone else’s agony. That is, unless he decides to snap out of it someday. Perhaps after he has decided that he has achieved something from all this silence and going nowhere.


The farther I go the less I know
One foot goes in front of the other
It all boils around to not hanging around
To keep moving in front of the gravity
The answer is there the answer is there
but there is not a fixed position
It keeps moving along so I keep coming along
and that's why I'm a long distance runner
and if I stop to catch my breath
I might catch a piece of death
I can't keep your pace if I want to finish this race
My fight's not with it
It's with the gravity
Long distance runner

Long Distance Runner