Stare at water, and let it wash your mind.
I first discovered this delight when I was a student, sitting by a weir on the bank of the River Trent. I just looked at all that water and suddenly found myself carried away by the movement. It felt like the water was washing through my mind, cleansing it.
I still do this as often as I can, even though I have very little useful sight. The water was blurred when I could see, so now is no different. Provided you have some vision, this mind washing will carry you away. Keep your head still, and let the river flow through it.
Mind washing is not to be confused with brain washing. Mind washing cleanses and invigorates, brain washing confuses and dirties. Advertising does this latter – it presents images that confuse, like the lovely new car on an empty road in the mountains. You have no experience of this type of car (or road) and you are confused by the lack of other traffic and fumes and the absence of a general sense of stress and frustration! So buy the car, stupid, and you will for ever drive on empty roads through mountains and empty cities and deserted beaches.
Now I find it happens with any water, white or still. Even the brown water of the canal washes my mind if I stay still and let it. This is a secret long kept by anglers. It’s the real reason they sit by canals and rivers and flooded gravel pits all day, with nothing but a flask of coffee. They certainly don’t do it for food, because they throw their catches back.
No, angling is a cult of mind washers.
I think herons do it, as well. Watch one stand by the side of a lake, yellow eye staring at the water. It is pretending to fish, but it is actually washing its mind!
On holiday, I will stare for hours at the reflection in a swimming pool. Apart from being upside down, the troubled reflections in a pool are pretty much what the world looks like to me, anyway.
The sea does it, as well, but on a majestic scale. To stare out to sea is to experience, in some small way, the Void, the archaic past from which we came. Why else do people drive to the seashore, park with the car facing it, and then just sit and stare. Massive confidences and confessions have been uttered by people sitting side-by-side, staring at the sea. The sea draws out proposals of marriage, and the bitterness of infidelity, expressions of love and the sharing of bad news.
When people face death, they go to the sea, if they can.
These are all moments of common humanity, of common suffering and happiness, and, if you are blind, you have these moments, too, and the vastness of the sea will keep your secrets and your fears and your joy. Just in case you need them again.