Colin is in the outdoorshop looking at stuff that he doesn’t really need. Simon and I are sitting on the sidewalk. A couple of pretty young women walk by. We look them, we look at each other. We grin. Walking awakens all phyisical senses.
Simon and Colin have come to walk with me for a couple of days. That’s marvellous. As much as I like to walk and contemplate by myself, the walking and sharing time and stories with good friends brings a whole new dimension to the journey. It is also a change in scenery.
Simon is not sure how his back and legs will hold out, wearing a backpack for the first time. It goes remarkably well. First day is a struggle, second day as well. And then all of a sudden, it gets easier. You get used to this weight on your shoulders and hips, you get used to walking a bit differently, slower maybe. I eat less when I am walking then when I’m at home. My body tells me when it’s enough. Walking on a full stomach is difficult.
After 4 days, when we say goodbye, Simon says that he even feels less of the regular back pains then before. Walking has had a healing effect on him. This is not to say that everyone with ailing backs should hoist their backpacks and start walking….his also might not last…..
Walking can have a liberating effect. For the better part of the day, you are very much aware of your body. I you have a bad mattress, you may be aware of it for the better part of the night as well. You bring your body closer to nature, closer to ‘wildness’. I am very much aware that there is not that much wildness in this journey. I’d have to be a lot more adventurous then that… OK, there were some scary moments in the mountains of the Lake District, but even this little bit of sniffing at it already gives me more room and space. More liberty and as a paradox also more awareness of nature being so much bigger then us.
There is a sharp, harsh wildness in the mountains. A couple of wrong steps, a slip, a stumble and your journey is over. During this journey I also find out about a soft wildness, absorbing, caressing, fingering, throbbing. Just as dangerous if you don’t pay attention. The hard wildness will throw you off the mountain. The soft wildness will drown you in its quicksand. I believe I am finding more of this soft wildness during this journey. Or maybe its finding me….