I will try to tell you how I feel on the return trip. First, where have I been? I have been sitting on the river wall, in the sunshine north of Ely, with the River Ouse stretching to a wide horizon and a strong wind blowing through the grass. I was there for 25 minutes.
I listen. It is a time when you can listen, because there is not someone two inches away bawling at you. Although this is a figurative description of life in the capital, it is the usual state.
Afterward I value two things. One is a draining of false ego. I feel I know my real self a little better. The strains of the world seem to make one apathetic, unkind, tense; when one wants to be active, gentle, serene. A self comes into action which one knows is not one's best self. It does not seem to do the right thing all the time. It seems to be warding things off because it fears being overwhelmed. It is good when that drains away and one feels real again.
The other thing restored is my sense of beauty. The return train standing at the platform at Ely - as it did for half an hour before setting off - has become a thing of beauty. The perspective is wonderful. The newly painted coaches and the windows are not just blue and gray and silver - they reflect light, trees, clouds. Then a bird sings its quiet little autumn song. That stillness, beauty, peace, comfort - that is when I want to weep. I can hear home. I can feel me.
Beauty is now recognizable on the journey back: the lie of the land, the colors of the grass, the set of the trees; the couple sitting opposite; an exchanged smile. I see there are no rules for beauty: It comes with inspiration. With the inspiration heard, it oozes through every pore.
If only I could hear always.
If only we could all hear now.
So I remember the riverbank, and listen.
Now do you understand why I came today?