Last night I walked through the woods with the dogs. All around me, were milky greys and dark sapphire blues. It started to rain a little. Soft rain. Replenishing rain. Later when it picked up, Bongo my dog stop and sat in the way that says: Lady, if you think I am going any further, you're crazier then I thought.
Because I did want to go further. Which is different for me. Because normally night walks like night dives, night drives and night time in general is something I try to avoid. If I am in company, well then that’s different. So when I found myself taking the dogs for a walk at 8.45pm last night, something in me came awake: we’re off! This is my latest post.
The Different Wood
I can describe someone’s laughter, the look of my dogs face, but not the way the forest smells at night. Only to tell you this: it smells different. Fresher, wetter, pinier. The trees looked like water colours.
Soon my feet found their way as my eyes lost theirs. There was something liberating in that. And also the relaxing that happened. The reasoning being that if there are any dangers - dangers being the only reason not to go out at night I guess, because it's not exactly bad for you, and it's not exactly dull - the dogs will alert me, so really all there was to do, was enjoy, walk and explore. Reminding me that so much of what we are told when young, sinks in and we confuse for truth.
Aboriginals walk the lines of the land. Their land. We don’t even know what this means. And although our ancestors of this island are some of the most ritualistic, earth respective people this world has yet known, we push that heritage aside. Leave it for the hippies.
In 2009 I spent time in Cambodia setting up a pilot project for a London foundation. As I travelled deeper into the country with our Cambodian partners we met with people who lived in the more remote provinces and with them all there was a common theme amongst the NGO’s: the knowledge of the elders was being lost. But there is something patronizing in a foreigner saying oh no! You guys, you need this! When back home we rarely acknowledge our own ancestoral wisdom. Trading it in for something shinier, newer and whose creation is so removed from our daily lives, we feign indifference as to its impact.
But if our fathers and mothers and grand-parents and uncles and aunts and sisters and brothers and maybe in some cases even our children were to walk once again on this land, would they prod our indifference? In being reminded would we cry uncried tears for them? Or simply say: I miss you.
Stay a while if you can.
“Be the change,” Ghandi.
When our children need us, we hold them. We create quiet moments so that we can sit and hold and soothe them. Because it is in stillness that we can better understand where they really are. And so we stop doing with them and we start listening to them. We reduce the distractions and increase time with family and friends and animals and wherever, whenever possible bring them to nature.
London is so busy and constant and the demands so ferocious that I wander around in doing mode fluttering further and further away from my child. So even though we may sit side by side and my body may be there. I am not there. Not really. But when we roam to nature something softens and melts and something else comes to the fore with a vitality and silence that says: I’m here!
Last night I wanted to roam and walk and be outside and when I got to that mound of a hill in the field at the end of the woods I brought my hand to my mouth again and again and whooped and whooped out to the cold night air. This time of night; not particularly special or noted. After sunset, not yet midnight, nor dawn or sunrise. Night. Sinking back enveloping, i'll be staying for a while dark night. I realised after a little while that the only light I could see was to the left of me in Chichester. Hazy light, mottled by the fog. There were no stars; the clouds hiding them tonight.
A wind picks up. I turn around. There’s a mist, a haze, an increasing rain. Piglet is easier to define because she’s white. Whereas Bongo is harder to see because he’s dark. Like a black dot on your vision when you blink and you’re not sure if it is him or not. And the only thing that distinguishes Bongo from the dark mist is his movement. And the sense about him. Here I come, I come, here I come to you.
Walking across the field, which rises and dips and soars in front of me I feel my feet return to the earth.
Bongo has just stopped.
“Bongooooooooo!” My voice echoes.
Afterwards I can only hear my breath. It's alive.
I am waiting for him. Really hard to see him.
I’m done missy. This is not fun for me.
And because fear says pay attention, maybe he’s right, maybe something does loom in the foreground. I back up and go to him and we retreat slightly and curve to the right and take a short to walk down the field back home. A home that lies somewhere ahead, at the moment I can’t quite see it, but I can feel it, sense it, and the feeling is keeping me alive.