I lucked out this time when the maps were divided; I got my favourite area of the city, (or maybe I kind of wangled it). In my part of the world we publicise our meditation classes mainly by posting leaflets through letterboxes. There is satisfaction in the simplicity of the task itself, but also in its motivation: to offer to others the opportunities of meditation. Considering the countless transforming benefits meditation has given me, it would seem almost rude not to make its treasures available to my neighbours.
The little orange invitation might well be bundled into a ball the instant it arrives on the other side of the door. It may become a scrap on which to scrawl a telephone number, or serve as tinder for the fire. On the other hand it may have its recipient running down the garden with raised eyebrows asking with some urgency, “Can you spare one for my friend?” and “Do we have to book ahead?” There is no accounting for taste as they say. Not everyone wants to meditate, let alone lead a spiritual life, and even those who do, may not be interested in our particular route. There is no knowing in this intricate tapestry of cultures and lifestyles who will want what we have to offer, but there is satisfaction in offering the same invitation to all.
I think it is the display of individuality in my particular leafleting plot, which charms me most. It’s the sort of place one would imagine explorers would live, or inventors, or people who write for journals of some Institute or other, or those who teach music. Indeed, there it is: a Beethoven sonata open at the piano in the very first terrace, and in another someone is singing scales. One displays a window of painted wooden toys. The path of another parts the wiry limbs and dazzling blooms of cornflowers. One has a storey of midnight violet, above a storey of alarming orange - where one would even buy such paint I have no idea. At another, three sets of wellingtons, returned from adventure and covered in mud, are neatly graded by size by a wrought iron mat. A lady calls in Welsh as her sons mount bicycles. There are few things more enchanting than a child’s reply in that fairytale language: music to my baffled English ear. Perhaps I will never see these people again, or perhaps we’ll one day be firm friends. For now I enjoy just being amongst them.
Once I’ve found the gate, and then the latch, and come to terms with its technical idiosyncrasies, I am quiet and careful so as not to disturb the garden blooms, or distress the dog. If I am unsuccessful, the latter may just say “Oh hi!,” or it may use less savoury language, chucking its full weight at me so I am glad there is a strong enough door between us. Minor perils abound in the letterbox itself, if it can be found at all. It may be very small and stiff, and nip the fingers as it snaps shut; it may have bristly brushes on the inside; or it may be polished so brightly that I do not want to mar it with my fingerprints.
After a while I’m a little cold and tired, and think I’ll call it a day, but look up to see a familiar face grinning from a window. It’s a Run and Become customer whom I know well. I’d served him a couple of days before, on his return from a Marathon Des Sables debut. I remember being stunned by his reply when I asked him how he fared in this notoriously gruelling event. “It was wonderful,” he said with effervescent smiling eyes. “Just one tiny blister, that’s all.” There he is now waving at me from his window with dauntless energy and cheerfulness.
“Maybe I’ll do one more street,” I think to myself with a renewed smile and a spring in my step, suddenly remembering my initial inspiration for the task in hand, and its worthy purpose.