“If it all fell through tomorrow, put my pack on my back and it’s home where the lunatics roam” - Jaz Coleman
Today I walked.
Crisp winter air cleared my nostrils as I breathed deeply it’s sweetness to my lungs. Striding out onto pavements covered with compacted snow and slush I trod boldly, embracing the challenge of the ground shifting beneath every step. Hard work, legs aching almost immediately, shins straining.
This is not punishment, this is joy.
It is like this in the wilderness. There I push myself to find my limits.
Five thousand, three hundred and seven songs in my pocket, always left to chance. The soundtrack filling my ears fuels my engine, empowering my every step. “Love of the masses” by killing Joke perfectly gets proceedings under way. It’s thunderous, rolling bass line encourages me to fall into rhythm making each step that much harder on the unforgiving pathway.
It is like that in the wilderness. Nature has a beautiful cacophony.
A bus is stopped allowing passengers to board. I am glad to be walking, glad to be outside breathing the fresh, cold air and not being confined to a cramped seat sharing stale air with those inside.
Rats in a cage.
It is not like that in the wilderness. There I am always unrestricted.
The snow is thawing and droplets of melt water hang precariously from the tips of deep green fingered conifers like tiny baubles reminding me that the spirit of Christmas is still with some of us. Each one captures a tiny fragment of the sun before making it’s kamikaze dive to an anonymous grave on the newly uncovered ground below.
Maybe if there were enough of them they could wash away the empty bottles, sweet wrappers and dog shit.
It is not like this in the wilderness. There I always feel clean.
The streets are almost clear of snow now, grey slush and icy pavements are all that remain and I am saddened. I look at rooftops to see the last of the untouched whiteness, that pure virgin territory.
It is like that in the wilderness. There it is only my footsteps left behind.
I walk along a pedestrian street where brick mosaic paving reveals itself in patches as if coming up for air after days of being suffocated by the ice. I wish it to remain hidden as it’s ugliness repulses me. It is not the bricks, nor the design but the lack of respect shown by the people here. They spit, tread their gum into the floor, drop cigarette ends and let their animals foul without clearing it up.
They walk in front of me, slow, meandering, the whole pavement is not enough for them it seems.
I am impatient, no, intolerant and the temper rises. I want to push these fuckers out the way, these thoughtless, self-absorbed cretins that ruin everything and shit all over the beauty.
It is not like this in the Wilderness. There I am unhindered, free to be myself.
I enter a shopping mall, white walls and glass ceilings. It reminds me of the viewing theatre in an asylum.
People everywhere, fluttering, to-ing and fro-ing, none able to walk in a straight line or at a constant speed. I am not walking I am dancing, a pirouette and a shimmy, every step a collision course. I feel like I’m not really there as I drift through the chaos in slow motion, looking menacingly into the eyes of those that brush by me. “Christine” by Siouxsie and the Banshees rattles through my head and it all makes sense. “Christine, the strawberry girl - see her faces unfurl”.
It’s the lunatics running the asylum now.
Outside the shops are closed. Glass panes replaced by white boards and posters promising new and exciting business ventures soon. Plans are afoot to reshape the city. They’re going to wipe away all these grand old Georgian and Victorian buildings which were designed and crafted with skill and precision, built by hands of men who prided in their toils, who poured love into every detail.
A city’s history erased for the sake of a modernised glass, steel and concrete monster which will also remain empty. A sad indictment of our times.
It is not like that in the wilderness. Nature lovingly maintains her garden and it endures beyond countless generations of mortal lifespan, unchanging.
Magnetic north is shifting, inch by inch, evidence that our mother earth is restless in her spin. The iron in my blood is restless too, it feels the magnetic pull of the wild and I find it harder and harder to resist. I need to get the fuck away from here for sanity’s sake. I need some peace away from the madness, chaos and futility of our economically, ecumenically and spiritually failing society.
It is like not that in the wilderness. There it is harmonious, everything in it’s right place.