My life is a quiet river, drifting lazily but inexorably towards the mouth of its own extinction and out into a shoreless sea of oblivion.
All the more reason then to marvel at those who have discovered a genuine passion for something – for anything – in their lives.
And so it was last week as I was travelling around Andalucia.
On a verdant hillside, tucked away in a lost corner of Almeria, I stopped by a place by the name of Sunseed, where I met an engaging young Spanish woman called Patricia.
Sunseed is a charitable commune that practises organic, low-impact, sustainable living; recycling and re-using just about everything you can imagine.
But as she spoke, her eyes shone with a radiant intensity that came from a heartfelt conviction that she was involved in something important; something of real substance.
It doesn’t make for a particularly easy or comfortable existence, especially during the wholly intemperate winter Andalucia has just endured.
Patricia, nevertheless, welcomed me into the gloomy meeting room-cum-dining area with a beaming smile and promptly set about explaining how Sunseed was staffed by volunteers who, in addition to working the land, instructed visitors to the centre in the ways of sustainable living.
She led me on a tour of the facility, explaining the workings of this and that, identifying plants and trees and performing impromptu demonstrations along the way.
She was humble, almost shy, as she related the daily aspects of communal life. But as she spoke, her eyes shone with a radiant intensity that came from a heartfelt conviction that she was involved in something important; something of real substance. In the absence of a God, Patricia had found something to believe in, some purpose to her existence.
Her life had meaning. She knew it, I knew it. It was intoxicating. I wanted to hold her in my arms and drown in the iridescence of her gaze and escape the vacuum of my pitiful, invisible, disposable life.
How I longed to know – if only for a moment – that exalted feeling of worth and purpose. But the moment passed and Patricia was gone.
It wasn’t that Patricia was preaching some divine, ethereal gospel. She wasn’t even saying that all people should live like she did.
If they did, she understood well enough, there would be no solar panels on her roof, or internet, or washing powder.
She was simply showing to me – and to the world – what is possible in this ravaged world that we continue to plunder and despoil, if only we cared to do something – just some thing – however small, to help heal this scorched and tortured Earth.
Meaning enough for a generation, let alone one small life. And still, my river runs through it.
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