It was a perfect day to be on Dartmoor: blue sky, warm sun, a gentle breeze to cool the skin and wild expanse all around. I was cycling along the Two Moors Way, determined to get to Piles Copse before 4pm. I’d sit and have a cup of tea there by the river. It would be beautiful! “It’s not far now – just over the next ridge”, I thought. “Maybe ten minutes away?” I was quite aware that I wasn’t noticing the moor all around me: I had to focus on the cycling, on getting to Piles Copse before tea.
Quite suddenly I stopped. Where was I right now? All my attention was on getting somewhere else, not on being in this fabulous place. I got off the bike and sat on the grass. As I sat a cyclist sped past. He seemed to be in a race with himself, utterly absorbed in getting there – wherever that was – as quickly as possible. But now, at last, I was being here.
I wandered a short way from the path up towards Hangershell Rock. A cow stood there, staring at me. Then her calf joined her. Soon there was a gathering of Dartmoor cows on the Rocks and we stood contemplating each other. The cows seemed to exemplify being here, in this moment, in this place. We shared a moment of being together and then they began to wander off. I felt that they had unintentionally offered me a lesson in how to be. Dartmoor is often like that: a wild careless teacher.