No, don’t worry, I won’t depress you with my tales of being trapped inside for days (although I could) or tell you of the many times I walked the same trail and felt like I was treading in place. We all had a slow and foggy summer. I watched a historic event unfold and couldn’t muster the energy to write about it. Our peculiar pause, as I heard Neil Gaiman describe it.
No, I won’t bore you or bring you down. I will tell you about the adventures I did have, even though they may have been few. I had the adventure of choosing for myself each day what would fill my time. And so not surprisingly, I spent many days just walking.
I say ‘just’ but really, walking (or wandering as I more romantically think of it) is a beautiful way to become present on the land. Add the comforting thud of a camera bouncing against your chest at every step and it just might be an adventure after all. I walked and wandered and spoke aloud to myself and wrote pieces of my book in scribbled notebooks and I marvelled at how much stillness I could find.
If you put aside the roar of lawnmowers and the hum of traffic, if you go deeper into your listening, there is an intense concentration of stillness in every wave that laps the shoreline. Yes, I’m aware of the contradiction there, aren’t waves in motion? Isn’t the world in motion? Yes, of course it is. By virtue of breathing you are in motion as well. When I say stillness, what I am referring to is the pause between the inhale and exhale, the moment when you can truly just be still. That is what I find in the waves. The space between one moment and the next.
And so even as I felt myself longing for paths I didn’t know, for new sceneries to take in, and new plants to greet, I filled my own time and found my own calm. I walked off the restlessness as best I could and tried to be exactly where I was.
The summer passed. My calendar is full again. I miss the weary paths already.