Life on the M25

In what are busy times, being mindful can be very challenging as we constantly try to keep on top of everything we do in our lives. Put simply, being mindful is awareness of something in the present moment. When we’re so stuck in work routines, with many of us battling stress, it can be hard to take in our surroundings — or switch off from the busyness. Here, our guest writer Mark shares his thoughts of working in the fast lane, while absorbing life as it happens around him.

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It’s a huge mass of tarmac, white paint, signs for your information, signs to keep you safe. For the time being, it has become my home. I’m an airport taxi driver, Heathrow, Gatwick, back and forth. 24/7 this road never sleeps, alive with the rumble of lorries and cars — the sound of rubber on tarmac. Like great modern-day elephants, lorries in convoy are slow and cumbersome. I’m not sure where they are heading or what they may be carrying, it makes me wonder how far the cargo will go. Within our land or far away? Who knows?

Sometimes these great motoring monsters come to a halt, their tyres burst and they can’t go on, seeking shelter at the side of the road. Waiting for a helping hand. I watch the cars as they whizz past. People have got to be here or there, yesterday or today. They have no time on their hands and just need to get from A to B as fast as they can. Like ants across a tarmac desert they are trying to get to work. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, the end of the working day is done!

Now a race to get home. Here we go, foot down! I have seen the trees go from greens of different shades to reds, browns and yellows and back again, a continuous circle of their lives. Their seasons go so quick another year has passed. In and out of the trees fly the red kits, the buzzards, kestrels, and jackdaws to name a few. Swooping, gliding, circling in beautiful displays of colour and prowess. I know they will be looking for their next nesting site or meal to feed on.

The deer dart in and out of the hedges and trees to graze and relax in the sun, the sheep, the cows do much the same. The cows and sheep head home, back to the safety and comfort of the farm. The deer retreat to the woods for cover in the night — they don’t have that luxury. Two worlds run alongside each other, one of large machines and the other small of only two wheels. People are going to work, to visit, and to get to the airports.

Just over the fences that keep the tarmac from overflowing are the farmers preparing fields, collecting and spraying their crops. A rewarding but hardworking life. Fields that go on for miles as far as the eye can see only broken by the pylons and wires in little sleepy villages that seem to be a million miles away.

I guess many people are unaware of the beauty that surrounds us while on our journey, not really taking it in as the buzzards that sit on the lights above the motorway watch like feathered cameras as we race below them. The cameras watch like huge eyes covering our every move, being controlled by another set of eyes behind a screen. This road doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t know the peaceful tranquillity of the woods and fields that surround it. It cracks and breaks under the strain of the load it must carry every day like a donkey that has to carry its load for its owner to market. The M25 is not just a motorway, but a place of work.