My memories of a month traversing Japan thirty-four years ago are hazy but I recall a Kyoto temple where a field of sand was raked daily in a Zen style. I remember a sense of peace. Yesterday I asked a walking tour guide about such a place and he showed me a Google image of Ryoan-ji Temple about an hour from where we were staying. It matched my recollection.

So today we caught a bus to check it out. It proved to be a highlight of our fortnight in Japan.

I tried an experiment at the karensansui (dry landscape) sand-and-rock garden. Last year I ran a Headspace Big Year, diligently using the app to do ten minutes of meditation-lite each and every day. The habit didn’t stick long in 2019 but at least I can sink into some level of quietness, so I set my iPhone timer to fifteen minutes and sat next to a shaped tree facing the white sand, an expanse that stretched beyond its physical dimensions, or so it seemed to me. In spite of the clamour of tourists as around, I succeeded in resting my mind on the images needed.

I had a couple of purposes in mind. One was to finally agree with myself on two Big Years for 2020. Mind in a rare unruffled state, I did just that. 2020 will be selfish and unselfish. Each day I’ll run a race or train towards a race (we’re not talking athleticism here, I’m as slow as can be), call it the Racing Big Year. Each day I’ll work on something for Extinction Rebellion; call it the Activism Big Year.

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