I noticed the phrase last week. It was on the landing above the stairs which lead down to the two yoga rooms in the basement. In the Yoga studios where I had also signed myself up for in central London: A month of classes for £45. What a deal, I thought.
Several sentences intended to be inspirational had been stencilled on various of the white walls of the studios. And among them this phrase on the landing: ‘I am – this way’.
It was here that I was going to be upended and scraped back to the original me. It was exciting to begin with.
Then after a few days perhaps to be peeled back even further to before the original. Back to before the bones even. Back to the gneiss – as in: ‘the ancient gneisses of the Lewisian Complex‘ – the oldest rock to be found on earth.
Because at dinner on Saturday night somebody was talking about how he worked with this particular kind of ancient rock. Gneiss. He was a sculptor artist and he explained how working in the West Highlands and Outer Hebrides he scraped back the surface soil to find the rock just below. To reach the roots, as he put it.
Scraped back and upended, like the island to the west over whose hills I had watched the skies catch fire with the spectacular sunsets of late summer as a child. These were the same hills which were created when the mantle melted and the central volcano erupted 60 million years ago bringing back to the surface both the successively metamorphosed and recrystallised, and the gneiss, the oldest rocks of more than 8,000 million years ago.
Suddenly I felt overexposed.