Sunday 6th May 1979…Awoke to the warm glow of sunlight filling the room and the sounds of nothing – not even birdsong. It was 8:30. I felt as if someone had performed a lobotomy while I was in the grip of an alcoholically induced sleep. I drank too much beer last night and I felt quite convinced that a piece of my brain had been removed. I keep telling myself to give up drinking – it does me no good. The after effects are always bad.
To clear my head I decided to go for a walk in Abbey Park, and something rather strange happened.
I was standing in a tree-shaded walk overlooking the boating lake feeling relaxed and at peace with the world, listening to the water lapping, a counterpoint of birdsong, people laughing in the distance, the rustling sound of the trees about me and a faint buzzing sound which I could not identify but was either an insect or a more distant model airplane.
I looked at the boating lake, the ducks wading in the shallows, a minnow darting through the water, foraging for food, the reflection of sun through branches. I was totally open to everything around me. I had never ever felt so hypersensitive before this moment. My hands were tingling in my jacket pockets, so I brought them out slowly as if they were precious objects to be handled with reverence. They felt heavy but I wanted to lift them high, to outstretch my arms. However I felt, even then, a little restricted by my self-consciousness. So I simply stood absolutely still and rested my tingling hands on the rough fence before me. It was covered with pine needles, lichen and bird droppings.
Suddenly I was overwhelmed by a feeling of immense calm expansiveness, and my body felt as if it were beginning to fall away and I was about to soar upwards above the trees, and over the lake. But just as abruptly the transcendental moment was broken, and I was jerked back. I realised that I had closed my eyes, and thus opened them again, fixing my gaze on some people in a boat coming towards me, and knew it was over – that moment of supreme self-forgetfulness, that near-merging with everything.
It was beautiful, deeply moving. I felt awed, privileged to have had such an experience. Wish I could have described it better but even now my head is unclear. Still, it was extraordinary and very real.