By AFEA member Joo Teoh
I have followed my dog up a steep sandy path to the top of the dune. We are now about fifty meters above the flat sandy beach that rolls out before us. From here I can see for miles in every direction. The Atlantic in front of me, rolling Normand earth behind me. I can make out the larger crop of the Isles Chausey. Farther to the right, Jersey. The tide is all the way out. While this duvet of salt water has been pulled back, the soft mattress of life underneath is revealed. Oyster cages lie on the unending flat sand stretching about fifteen miles across, and about three miles into the ocean. My currently waterless fringe of the Atlantic Sea is dotted with trucks, trailers, men in waders and thick gloves checking their cages for a Christmas harvest.
The weather report said there would be gusts of up to twenty-four miles per hour. It feels much more than that. I am struggling to stand upright on this ridge of sand. I can’t tell if the darts stinging my face and head are little droplets of rain pushed so hard by the wind that they have become sharp pins, or if I am being buffeted by grains of sand. I stand there a little longer, watching and breathing, while my dog checks a few more rabbit holes. My lungs are overwhelmed by this freshness. I feel the wind blow through me, through every pore, every follicle, every cell. I feel the cobwebs clear. Instead of closing my mouth to the unknown beads battering my face, I open wide and take in even more breath. I wish I could see what I feel: the wind peeling away the dead cells, the old energy, the stuckness and tiredness of autumn turning into winter, the frustrations and burdens I’ve been carrying after a tough, tough year. I feel an unusual but not unpleasant desire to laugh and cry at the same time. I feel vulnerable and purified, as if I’m standing bare naked, the world watching me as I laugh into the deafening wind, my arms in the air. As the wind eases, I feel lighter, clearer, more assured than ever that I am where I am meant to be.
The metal element is associated with the season of autumn, the lungs and the large intestine. Physiologically, it is the metallic elements in our blood that enable oxygenation: a single molecule of iron in hemoglobin binds the oxygen that is brought in by our lungs. The large intestine absorbs water, nutrients and vitamins, before compacting feces for discharge. So, it is easy to see how the metal element is about taking in and keeping what is genuinely of value to our existence, and effectively discarding waste. This is a powerful process, and brutal. In other aspects of our lives, our ability to take in what is important and let go of what no longer serves us gives an indication of how the metal element is working within us. Are you rarely inspired? Have you been able to grieve what is lost and gone? Can you recognize elements in your life that are genuinely important? What aspect of your life could do with a bit of a clear-out?