Window Screens

Wednesday 16 August 2017: Le Riot du Plessis (Le Plessis Bergeret) to La Roche-sur-Yon [Part 3]

11:30am. Sitting outside a typical E.Leclerc, after a light-and-easy 10k from our beautiful overnight spot beside the Lake/River Le Riot du Plessis. We were both awake and up around 7am, having fallen to sleep accompanied by the haunting-yet-soothing hoots of an owl or three.

No real urgency today. We’ve just got a hotel-check-in at 2pm for our rest-day. On some level, it’s reassuring to know we’ve got everything there waiting, without having to cycle from here to here, dependent on various weather conditions or shopping opportunities for what we eat, or when we eat, or even how. A bed is there, also not susceptible to the caprice of the weather.

And that’s nice. It is. The reliable. The sense it’s always there, almost exactly as you left it – and maybe exactly as you wish. It’s what you can have in day-to-day life, with convenience on your doorstep, if you’re willing to pay the price – of your labour; of your life; of most of your time on this Earth; to consume the fruits of your labour at prices higher than those at which you were paid; to keep a cycle going for those unknowns elsewhere, who we see on our screens, wishing that that was us. And life ticks by as we aspire to live someone else’s dream; a dream at the expense of our own. And the Earth spins on, vastly unknown, viewed through windows presented by others.

Inevitably, we tire, our vigour fades, and our market value declines. We’re put out to pasture – to do as we might, though a little too broken to do what we once could have done. So through those same windows we continue to follow the lives – those lives that we chose not to live.

And that’s nice, if vicarious is all that you need, and virtual is real enough. But as the heart breathes and life warmly flows, I want more than simulacra of being.

As one day turns to next, we all head the same way and leave some light footprints behind, so it doesn’t matter so much – your way or mine – as long as it’s the one that you choose.

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The Real Scary Creatures that Exist in this World [2]

Wednesday 16 August 2017: Le Riot du Plessis (Le Plessis Bergeret) to La Roche-sur-Yon [Part 2]

“This is how it feels
That purity of act
To kill someone
Really feel that purity of life.”

There it was – out there. The unspoken said. It could never be put back – be unspoken.

She had said it. Had I thought it?

As with all these things, it amounted to the same thing. If anything was done to action this thought, that’s all that would really matter – would really have an effect.

But nothing is without seed. Nothing is inherently a seed. We are all seed and fruit. Why think or spread those that may foul? For just one to take root, to germinate, damage will be done.

And for all the good that you do, the positivity you’ve shared
Somewhere around and abound
And on rebound
Will be the germ of an evil you once cared to spread

The Real Scary Creatures that Exist in this World [1]

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Wednesday 16 August 2017: Le Riot du Plessis (Le Plessis Bergeret) to La Roche-sur-Yon [Part 1]

4:30am. Fortunately, for many, for most, the worst monsters, the nastiest of villains, the most depraved of beasts, only exist in our minds. Fictions we dream up as the light dims and our imaginations fill the gaps with monsters drawn of senses trying to prevent us from falling into a false sense of security before

KABOOM!

Taken while our defences were down.

It’s a throwback to when we lived in caves and real monsters did dwell in the shadows and you would pay with the means to survive if you weren’t, even in slumber, somehow poised and ready, weapon to hand, should a sabre-toothed hedgehog swoop down at you in the night.

Now, as habitats have been taken and claimed, walls have been built with bricks and cement, and we have the power to make light to allow all our senses to see, and much of the natural world has been feared to the Outer Zones, there is nothing in the darkness except a fruit falling from a tree, an ajar window in a breeze, or a television set to low announcing itself.

But our minds have the power to conjure them at will and, as a kind of defence-mechanism, finds security in doing so, and maybe a little enjoyment, too, which is why horrors can leap onto the page of any person with a pen in their hand. How much these monsters take on a life for others depends on the ability of the writer to create a context, a dark corner, in which this creature might feasibly thrive. When this is done well, these things are packaged and sold to thrill our sense for the scary by allowing our imaginations some credence.

However, sometimes, or often, these creatures are not clearly labelled as coming from the mind. They come in our news feeds or are passed from mouth to mouth. Their passing on may not come of ill-will or a desire to misinform, but from a habit to have faith in the source that told the tale. But they’re mostly monsters made on rumour, once given shape in someone else’s darkest hour, then given life upon re-telling as a shared experience. They are built on some other’s myth-making machines, and really have no place in the World of You, except for the fact that we habitually set places for them and all the other characters we share in the stories that we tell one another to build our pictures of the world.

Most always this is harmless – just embroidery to colour life; but we should all be aware the monsters, especially the people we hold dear. So we warn them and we fear them, just so they may never come to harm, from the mythical beasts given life in darkened minds. When really all there is, when you brace and turn on the light, is a hedgehog rearing its kids away from the glare of public gaze; and not a biblical beast summoned forth to slay humankind.

But when these fears take shape, given life and truth in people’s minds, without them shining their own light in the corner to discover the sweetest truth, we risk modifying our behaviour according to myth, allowing another’s darkness to encroach on ours, and limiting a little more light. Until all we see is darkness, of origins now unknown.

Shine the light for yourself and you’ll usually reveal a sweetest truth, and not some other’s monsters. You may not, but at least it would prevent so many of us living in other people’s fears. And with more light being shone, more lightness would prevail: relegating the real scary creatures that exist in this world to the space beneath the line or on the forum pages.

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Your Own Voices

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Tuesday 15 August 2017: La Paulière Field to Le Riot du Plessis (Le Plessis Bergeret)

1125. Outside a supermarket on the edge of La Verrie. Have already decamped, rode to a boulangerie, breakfasted, aired, stretched in a park – and are ready to make our (hopefully) chilled way to a forest some ten kilometres shy of the city in which our rest-day hotel dwells.

Despite the overnight light rain and the upon-waking-up shower accompanied by a symphony of ominous clouds which got us up and decamped in 50 minutes yesterday, it was our first day in prolonged proper heat since we left Vienna and began our English odyssey – and I guess I was a little rusty at hydrating properly. I’ve got one of those thirsts today that can never quite be quenched, like when you’ve had one-too-many the previous evening. So, with midday and our serious riding of the day on the horizon, the clouds all broken up and wispy, 25º on the thermometer, the Sun beaming on me, and a sheen of sweat cooling the torso, I’ll have to keep an eye on that today.

1535. La Ferrier: not our destination, but pretty damn close and, personally speaking, also about the limit my body’d like to  go today – particularly my bum.

It’s been, I forget now, thirteen consecutive days on the saddle – and that hotel and that rest-day are looking pretty damn attractive right now.

Don’t get me wrong: loving the ride today, and much prefer camping to the alternatives, but sometimes your body, or something else, has got different priorities and, after only 190 minutes riding and about 47km covered, my body and bum are telling me: “Rest!”

Tonight is another night under canvas. Hope we are able to find a place in that forest we marked as our target for today. Hard to tell exactly what ‘forest’, ‘landuse’ or ‘meadow’ mean on maps.me, but we’ll see, and at some point needs just tell you: “Stop being fussy – and stop! Here’s perfect.”

So we will end up somewhere …
… and it will be just right 😀

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1710. A lake. Human-made or made for human? Don’t care: chilling. On our way to where we are going, passed it. “Shall we stop there and chill out by the water?” Yes. 40-ish minutes of horizontal immobility and eye-shuttage later, and I’m doodling.

We’ve been chilling.

Because all of what we’re doing is so pleasurable and so fulfilling, it may be seen as one long holiday; it isn’t; it’s work; and we also sometimes forget that, lost in our reveries or our silly conversations as move from here to here.

Enforced getting up and out there so early this morning has allowed us this time to just stop; we’ve done the bulk of our riding for the day (hopefully), and just have to get from here to tent-pitch time. That’s a time to chill, too, but it’s more a drifting towards total switch-off and sleep than just doing nothing, which is a significant, and only just now appreciated, difference.

Would be nice to camp here and though, with our experience of France’s nonchalance, tolerance and indulgence so far, I guess it’d be possible, we may feel just a little bit too exposed to foot-traffic at random times to be able to switch off completely for the big sleep … and, er, satisfy certain more solid bodily functions in the morning, though it’d be great to just wake up and be in our breakfast spot already, even though we’ve barely got enough food to see us through to sleep this evening. We only carry just enough to see us through until the next time we are able to restock on fuel and it must be holiday fortnight or whatever in this region at the moment, as most towns are like ghost ones: the roads are pleasantly devoid of serious traffic and an open shop or boulangerie or café is a bonus rather than a taken-for-granted.

It’s nice, again, to see that the French still respect the weekend, still respect general time off rather than selling it all out to the needs of that ‘all important economy’ thing that everyone talks about with such significance, but very few, if any, could actually define. And it doesn’t seem to be doing France any harm – at all! The standard of living is clearly high – and clearly higher than those countries with which I’m familiar that are slave to this economy thing. The quality of life is, well, incomparably higher again; from what I’ve seen, anyway. And they’re trying much more effectively to not let economic progress or development savage too much of their natural surroundings. That’s not to say some isn’t savaged, but not on the don’t-give-a-shit-scale as England or Poland.

And, returning to a theme which I’m feeling and noticing – France is just France: how it is. England always seems to be trying to be something, trying to define itself – why can’t it just be? It’d be happier if it did, and feel so much better, too, than when it’s trying to put on airs and graces, and be like something it’s seen elsewhere. It’s there elsewhere because it evolved elsewhere. You don’t become chic and cool by pretending to be someone else, you do it by throwing away your complexes; by being yourself, but not at the expense of others, of course.

Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people being themselves, and I love them for that, but when I see areas, villages, or towns clearly trying to dress themselves up in a way French towns, villages or areas instinctively do, I now know why it always comes across as feeling contrived and somewhat oppressive within my home shores – because it was trying to impose something.

If you want to be influenced by something positive, please do – there can never be too much positivity, but be influenced by the spirit that brought it to be; don’t just copy, in the hope that imitation will bring the same results. It may appear to do so, but it’s heart will be missing – and that is from where life flows.

Of course, I am spending all or most of my time in the best of France, or what France can be – why would I spend my days following roads I found distasteful? – but the fact that such a spirit exists and lives and thrives means there is no reason why this positive should not be ubiquitous, at the expense of the negative; rather than vice versa as so much of our mediated worlds lead us to believe.

Live life. Celebrate life. That is all. It’s easy, it really is, but for some reason we think it’s complicated – and that others enjoying life is to be envied, to maybe fear, and therefore to be curtailed. It isn’t. Just join in, or follow your own heart and passion, and you’ll soon find that other’s lives will bother you less and less as, simultaneously, you become part of a greater world of lives lived. And it’s a beautiful thing, it really is. You only have to do it and not heed those doubting voices with their vested interests – because those voices are not your own.