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.

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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The People in Our Paths #2

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Sunday 23 July 2017: Canterbury to Melton Mowbray [Part 2]

16:50. Market Place, Melton.

Nine days since receiving the confirmation. Ten days since receiving the warning about what was happening and wondering how in the hell we’d get from there to here.

We’re here.

We’ve journeyed across five countries, almost incidentally, in order to do so.

Despite the circumstances that impelled the detour, we’ve been able to take in: the fabulous riding experience that is Belgium, the scarily erratic to quirkily quaint North of France, the real beauty of Kent, and the, to be fair, not-too-shabby scenery surrounding my old stomping grounds.

The bicycle moments of feeling a place on all of the senses would have been tragic to miss on a headlong, blind dash here. We’ve felt and experienced them together, as we always intended to try and do once we made our first tentative steps towards achieving this way of life a little over two years ago.

Every cloud. As always.

And there would always have been a feeling that some of the world was missing if we’d never made it to England on our outing, so something else to appreciate.

And, of course, last but not least – people: the kindness and generosity of people.

Through our mediated lives, we are led to believe that the world is populated by untold monsters, psychos and fanatics ready to take your life, your belongings or your principles at the drop of a hat.

Then you get out and you meet people; you open your need to people; your self to people. Love is returned and is never the less touching for being much more ubiquitous than our subscriber channels would like us to believe.

Thank you so so much: Peter and family in Asse, Isabelle and Tom in Aalter-Brug, restaurant-lady in Schoorbakkehoeve, and Chris and Caroline in Canterbury. You warmed our hearts on our mini-odyssey here.

Now to family I see all too rarely, so, despite the circumstances, I hope we’re able to enjoy some quality moments together.