The last year I spent living in Wales was a pretty weird one. In the sense that I was living pretty weirdly. I started making many more decisions ‘in the moment’, impulsively, without rationale. I did things because I had the idea to. I went so completely with the flow sometimes that it seemed like I wasn’t doing anything at all. I was experimenting with and exploring some kind of mysticism; surrendering my will to something I didn’t understand. It felt silly, and it felt fun, and it felt important.
One such exploration followed a meditation one morning after work. I don’t remember how exactly the idea was delivered to me, other than through visual symbols, but the idea was to visit somewhere out past Pontrhydfendigaid, which is a village about 15 miles South East of Aberystwyth that I knew of but had never been to before.
The next night at work, I remembered that there was a place called Strata Florida, which was a ruined abbey or church or some other significant thing. I thought maybe that was in that direction, and maybe that was the idea. So I looked it up and, sure enough, that’s exactly where it was – just on the other side of Pontrhydfendigaid.
That was more than enough to secure my curiosity and so, at my next available opportunity, I drove out toward Pontrhydfendigaid. It was a pleasant drive on the windy country roads I have grown to love driving on, and about half an hour later I spotted somewhere that must be the village. I was a little disappointed to arrive, but excited that to continue the exploration, so I drove slowly through the village looking for the turn off for Strata Florida.
When I spotted it, though, something weird happened. I suddenly didn’t want to go there anymore. I watched as the sign approached and then disappeared behind me, because it turned out I had just kept driving. And I proceeded to drive out of Pontrhydfendigaid and towards who knows what. With a weird sort of remorse, primarily for wasting diesel, I figured I’d just have to turn around when I could and go back, because I couldn’t just drive all the way out here for nothing.
A turn came up, but I didn’t take it. Then another. Didn’t like that one either. Then a carpark. Nope. What was I doing? Was I scared to pull in somewhere? What did I intend to do? Just keep driving until I ran out of fuel? Okay, the next one that came up, I would just have to pull in, this was getting ridiculous.
I spotted a right turn coming up that felt much more inviting than all the rest, and was relieved to find that I was capable of taking it. I pulled into the gravel carpark, but I didn’t just turn around; I parked up.
I had arrived somewhere. I liked it.
Where I had arrived was Cors Caron bog, a nature reserve that would become one of my favourite places to drive to, to reflect, to walk, to sit in the bird hide or to lie on the boardwalk in the rain when no-one else was around.
I was intending to talk about one of the experiences I had while walking around Cors Caron today, but this post became about something else. In fact, it became one of the instances that it is describing. Because I still make my decisions rather loosely these days, having learned of the understated magnificence of following whims.