Day 94 (19 June): The time has come
The time has come the Walrus said
To talk of many things
Of shoes -and ships - and sealing wax
Of cabbages - and kings
Previously on this blog I have been taking you down the ‘affairs of the heart’ path. The time has come to talk of other things.
I just got back from a two hour run in the woods. It was meant to be a one hour run in the woods but I did something I hadn’t done in ages. I got lost. It is a fairly easy thing to do as trees tend to look pretty much look like other trees when you are tootling along engaged in reverie with your mind some 75 metres above you and somewhere to the right.
There is something very pleasant about getting lost. It takes us out of the 21st century and puts us back in our hunter-gatherer skins. Today I knew that if I just kept running in any direction I would be able to work out where I was, which turned out to be the case or I would not be behind my keyboard now.
When I have been really lost in wilder places such as the really, really, really big woods in Norway I find the ensuing panic gives a certain zest to life. Did I write panic? I meant calm assessment of the situation followed by the production of a plan. Either way, you very quickly prioritise. How much water am I carrying? How much food? Do I have the wherewithal to make a shelter? Is there a phone signal? Where can I buy Snickers?
Unless it all goes pear shaped the little tremor of 'Oops I'm buggered!' fear is extremely refreshing.
Just so you know, when walking in wilder places I always have at least three litres of water, a couple of days rations, my tent, matches which light when wet and a sleeping bag. I also keep certain things on my person and not in my backpack. If a backpack falls down a ravine you can be seriously inconvenienced. So on my person I always have a flint firefighter, a Swiss Army knife (I have not yet found the shop which sells the spoons), a length of parachute cord in the form of a bracelet, a whistle, a compass and a survival blanket - essentially a big piece of tinfoil. I have never had to use any of it. But these things have to be thought through before you set out. I once met a chap in the middle of nowhere who had brought tasty and nutritious canned food with him. And no can opener. 'Hi there! I'm Neil from Can Opener Rentals!'
I also have a heavy but very powerful battery pack which can keep my phone recharged for five days. The phone is my primary compass, map, weather forecaster, communication device, trail guide and last but not least entertainment centre. No, I am not a purist. Sometimes if I am time constrained I will take to the tarmac for a day or two and then I am happy to listen to podcasts or a little music. And if I'm stuck in the middle of some woods in a shelter its nice to read a book on my kindle app rather than recall all the stories of mad axmen I have heard over the years.
Having said all this, I was looking at a Scandinavian Face Book page for long distance walkers (I have walked many leagues with the chap who runs it) this morning and I gave my input to a newcomer who was about to walk from Denmark to Santiago.
"Put one foot in front of the other. Repeat until the sun goes down. Pass the evening in good company". And that is the heart of it.
Much as I have loved my mega walks I am beginning to think they might well have served their purpose. I am now more ready to live life fully and take pleasure in the everyday.
I don't feel the same need for sanctuary. The time has come to engage again.
Just as on my run this morning I had no idea where I was going in writing this post. But I am happy with the conclusion.
Have a very happy weekend everybody!