I met Alexandra at the local station. She had agreed to spend an hour longer with me before getting the London train from Oxenholme, which serves the Lake District and has a direct link to the capital. She changed into her summer boots at the back of her car, and we walked the short distance to the local bakery, which had a tiny cafe, with excellent coffee. Grasping two tall take-away cups, we sat down on the metal chairs at the open front of the busy shop.
“Six,” she said. “I feel like we’ve been headed for type six for a long time?”
“Yes,” I replied, wondering how this would open itself out. “Six is the second most fundamental unfolding of the whole enneagram – from a personality or ego perspective, anyway.”
“And it has to do with fear?” She had been reading. That was no surprise, of course, but I knew that few books on the enneagram approached the topic from a truly spiritual perspective.
I sipped my hot coffee and burned my lip. “Ouch! – that will have to wait, possibly till we’re down by the gorge.”
“Gorge! I’m dressed for chambers, not mountaineering . . .”
“Don’t worry, there’s a road runs right by it.” I said. “A short scamper down through the forest and we’ll be on the flat limestone.”
I could see she was less than convinced. She had begun to fold the paper napkin that came with the coffee into a simple plane. I suspected the action was unconscious.
“Can you make boats, too?”
She looked at me, strangely, then down at her hands. “Yes,” she said.
“Will you make us one each?” I handed her my napkin and watched as her skilled fingers made light work of two small boats. They wouldn’t last long, but that suited my purposes.
Fifteen minutes later we were standing by the river Kent, having just crossed it on the old footbridge that swayed as you walked its suspended length. She was still smiling from the rather scary experience; the Kent was quite wide at this point, and the water flowed slowly, gathering its forces for what was to come.
“This isn’t a gorge,” she said, looking around at the flat meadow with cows in it.
“That’s part of the fun.” I nodded. “You will be astonished how quickly the landscape changes.”
“A bit like life and the unexpected?” She was fishing; and cleverly.
“Exactly like that. Got the boats? – it’s time to release them into time . . .”
She took both of them out of the small rucksack she had taken to bringing when we met up for our ‘Monday madness’ as she termed it. “You’re wearing the wellingtons, I assume you’re going to launch them?”
I took the two small, paper boats and waded out as far as I could into the stream. Soon, the two boats bobbed away on the slow current.
“What now?” she asked, beginning to giggle.
“We run like fury!” I replied.
Seconds later, we raced across the old bridge like idiots, driving it to a frenzy of vibration. I could hear her hooting laughter as we charged up the small country lane before diving down under the fence and coming to a a halt at the edge of the limestone gorge.
“Wow!” she was breathless and still laughing, but astonished at the change of scenery.
“Wouldn’t think they were so near each other would you; the meadow and the gorge?”
Just then, I began to point upstream, to where two tiny white boats, half submerged, were about to enter the churning water of the torrent that fed into the gorge below. For a second we stared at them, before they were spun and sunk by the violent water, slipping past us a pale shadow of their former shape. Soon, they were gone. I took the coffees out of my shoulder bag. I had packed a cup holder and they were still relatively intact, if a little cooler.
We stood and sipped the coffee. “Shouldn’t we be sad?” she asked.
“What, choose to be sad?” I asked, smiling at her. “We’re having a perfectly lovely summer morning watching tiny boats swirl to their doom in the white water; why would we choose to be sad?” I paused a while, then said, “It would be like choosing to be fearful . . .”
Alexandra was looking perplexed. “But, isn’t that the point, that, in real life, the tragedy would be much more serious?”
“Of course,” I smiled. “But even then, the perspective we need is the one of the two people on the bank of life, watching the inevitable and drinking coffee and being happy – because to do anything else is just choosing sadness . . .”
“Little people on the boats would have been terrified?” she queried.
“But only when the water became a torrent – until then, they would have been enjoying a pleasant sail on a summer’s day.”
She finished her coffee. “I’m going to have to think about that,” she said, handing me the empty cup. “Can we carry this on next week – and come back here?”
“Of course,” I replied, taking her arm and escorting her up the muddy slope and to the car.
To be continued . . .
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.
Steve Tanham is a founding director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness; a place of companionship, sharing and the search for the real in life, using the loving techniques and insights of esoteric psychology. He retired from a life as an IT entrepreneur to establish the School in 2102, and, having persuaded Sue Vincent to