|The long straight track.|
Much of the time, we are willing to do almost anything rather than face the unknown, the wilderness. When we drive in our cars, we'll go on for endless miles, rather than admit we're lost. We drive our lives that same way until a crisis stops us. But that fear blunts our experience of the world, doesn't it?
. . . if you're lost enough, then the experience of now is your guide to what comes next. None of us knows what comes the next second.
|Oh, a storm is threatening / My very life today / If I don't get some shelter / Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away THE ROLLING STONES Gimme Shelter|
The pilgrimage I'm undertaking soon may well be a challenging one: many days, if not weeks, of solitude — with cheap accommodation, or indeed any accommodation, thin on the ground. I'm taking a tent. And this time I'm making sure my pack weight is nearer a manageable 20lb than a punishing 30lb. I came up with the following 'ideal' guidelines, which I'm carrying with me in my head (zero weight!). Wish me luck.
Twelve Zen Guidelines for the Long Distance Pilgrim and Walker
1. To walk — and live — fully in the present.
2. To neither regret wrong turnings (the past) nor yearn for destinations (the future).
3. To walk — and live — mindfully, aware of and focused on what’s going on around, through the five senses, and what’s happening inside, through thoughts and feelings.
4. To try to get beyond desire, craving, negativity and division.
5. To let go.
6. To welcome intuition and the imagination, and to use them creatively.
7. To walk — and live — simply, thriftily and economically, consciously making each coin, each morsel of food and each mouthful of drink, count.
8. To be grateful for the luxurious, comparative freedom of a long-distance walk: going where I want, quickly or slowly, directly or obliquely.
9. To be grateful that, for a period of time, I am not subject to the usual routine dictates and compromises of family and society.
10. To consider walking a kind of art form.
11. To consider each step, breath, mile, thought, feeling, action, encounter, sight and insight a kind of prayer.
12. To try to love unconditionally.
|Footpath through poppy fields.|
For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know myself?
ROBERT MACFARLANE The Old Ways