Note to self


The day that I left, I came out here
Alone, to the woods. As I stared
Through the trees, felt the summer breeze stirring,
I gazed into myself and declared:

“Don’t ever forget where you come from:
This new life that you’re ready to start
Will be full of things trying to persuade you
They’re important. Stay true to your heart

And this place: what’s around you now matters:
It’s unchanging and won’t let you down.
So remember – these trees, fields and hedgerows
Will be here when the bright lights of town

Have grown dim, and you’re starting to wonder
Why the cash and the company car
Aren’t enough to make life worth the living
And you’re no longer sure who you are.”

And I proved myself right. So I come back
When I can, just to walk here, and grieve
For that lost self – the boy from the country
Who, in truth, never wanted to leave.


Went for a long walk with the whippet yesterday in some beautiful woods not far from my parents’ place. Haven’t been there in ages, but it was just like old times – in so many ways. N.

17 thoughts on “Note to self

  1. Oh Nick, this is lovely.

    It is so heartfelt I’m sure the words just flowed from you with all that you feel for the countryside. I love the fact that it won’t let you down, that’s so true, a point to remember when all the shit gets in the way.

    And your lovely friend by your side too – a lovely image – dogs are wonderful!:)


    • Thank you, Christine – you detected the angst and self-loathing then…?! Funny, I thought I’d hidden it rather well (not)!!

      Confession: I actually DID have this conversation with myself, alone in the woods a pleasant dog-walk from my folks’ place, back in July 1991. It was a bright, breezy Sunday afternoon, and I was due to leave for London that evening, ready to start my postgrad journalism training at King’s College on the Strand the following day. I guess even then, I had a strong sense that ‘out there’ I was going to have to ‘play a part’, and that the so-called ‘Real World’ was actually nothing of the sort. Very little I’ve seen or done since has convinced me otherwise!

      If this all sounds nauseatingly mature and self-aware for a callow youth of 22 with the ink barely dry on his degree certificate, let me add that it was quite a few years – most of them unhappy – before I finally remembered my own advice and took it seriously! I can see now, 20-some years later, that I really never wanted to leave, but felt I had to – or maybe, to be more accurate, I just didn’t want to grow up! N.xx

    • Thank you, Ina – I saw the link on your blog and read the poem; he’s captured the spirit of the place very well, I think. Just as we used to go cardboard-box-tobogganing on the amphitheatre, Maiden Castle’s main attraction for us kids was as a kite-flying venue; what those excellent photos can’t show is the howling wind that blows there more or less constantly! As you said – more nostalgia! N.xx

  2. You can take the boy out of the country.
    But you can’t take the country out of the boy.

    To your eternal credit Nick that statement remains true of you to this day.

    And the woods are always there in your head to be accessed whenever you need them.

    My best wishes


  3. Wow–not sure what I can add. But I do think of that phrase often: “don’t ever forget where you came from”. I don’t imagine I’ll ever stop being amazed–as God has brought me so very far (and yet I still have miles to go). Have a blessed day, Nick.

    • I think we all have ‘miles to go’ on that particular journey, really – I know I do! And I guess we can only measure our progress – spiritual, geographical or otherwise – if we know where we started from. I’m aware that I’ve pretty much gone full circle and ended up more-or-less back where I started 20 years ago in terms of where I live, what I’m interested in (and what I’m earning, if truth be told!) but I learned a lot on the way, and I’m glad to be where I am. As I said in the poem, I never really wanted to leave in the first place! Thank you so much for your encouragement. N.x

  4. I have a nephew from Albuquerque that was desperate to leave home as a teenager. He went to school at Georgia Tech in the southern part of the United States, spent some years in the navy, ending up his service in Washington DC, then got his PhD in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Tech. When he graduated he was offered several jobs back east, but refused them all, saying they didn’t pay enough or it just wasn’t quite right, even though the recession was raging, and even PhDs were having trouble finding jobs. Then he moved back home with his mother, sister, and brother and worked hard at finding a job in the west, but really pushed for one at Sandia Labs in Albuquerque. When he got that job he was one happy young man.
    What’s funny, and what this poem brings out, is how our roots that we rejected when we were young in pursuit of a “good” life draw us back. We’re almost like salmon after several years at sea. We need the woods, “trees, fields and hedgerows,” and streams, of course, that helped shape who we are. It is buried deep inside, and we will remember that one day.
    But, of course, this poem also has, like most Nick Moore poems, another theme, the powerful siren call to nature as a healing force in life. You can go out into the world and get damaged all you want–stupid fool–but in the end the only succor from pain and confusion is in the woods, gazing into yourself. It is in the sacred space of nature that you lose stupidity and foolishness and become, in the homewoods of the soul, the real human that you are.

  5. I can identify absolutely with your nephew’s story, Tom – except I never came anywhere near earning a PhD! I love your image of our being like salmon, seeking out the waters where we were born after years at sea (especially apt for your nephew with his Naval service!) Going to sea is part of the natural order, and I know leaving was the right thing to do. But it was only when I turned away from what I thought (or had been told) was the ‘right’ and ‘important’ in life that the ‘healing force’ was able to get to work. I still lose sight of myself sometimes (usually when the gas bill or credit card statement arrives) but I’ve spent enough time ‘out there’ to know that I’m better off where I am, and the temptation to run back to the ‘Real World’ soon passes! I’m also incredibly lucky that my wife supports me 100% in this, and always ‘talks me down’ when I start raving about needing to get a ‘proper’ job and a pension and all that stuff. She has a lot more faith in me than I do, I guess, and I know how blessed I am in that. N.

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