BEING ALONE WITH NATURE
By Paul Heiney
If I told you being alone can make me happy, might you raise an eyebrow?
A couple of years back I sailed my boat to Cape Horn and back, a round trip of 18,000 miles, and for 12,000 of them I was as alone on this planet as it is possible to be. Land was more than 1,000 miles away. And I was very happy to be there. Not all of the time - there's not much happiness when the wind blows and the seas tumble
across your boat.
But when the ocean gives you a break from storm and tempest, I find a more fundamental kind of happiness than any on land.
One night, in one of the calms in the infamous doldrums
, the stars came out, and suddenly they were perfectly reflected in the sea - I was floating among the stars!
Other sailors have written that such experiences reinforce their insignificance amid the vastness of the universe. But in that moment I felt at the very centre of the universe.
And then back in the embrace
of loved ones when the journey's over, I can tell them this tale and, I hope, make them happy in turn.