I find it hard to say
on walking, not talking
Monday night in June,
….and the sky is slowly darkening. The feathery trees ahead dip down low, skimming the glittering lake. The evening mist surrounds us, coating us in silver, in deep green. All we can make out is the forests edge and small island in the middle of the water, a pale, dream-like lagoon. You pull the hood on your rain mac, angling your face towards the summer rain. This, you say, is your kind of weather.
Last week, the temperatures soared. The park was littered with barbeque residue, food carton and packets, beer cans, empty wine bottles. Out of the bushes came blue-headed ducks and shiny, well-fed crows. Squirrels stole loaves of bread from rubbish bins. South London was vibrant and stifling. Now, in the matter of a few days, the rain has cooled the city down. The perfume hangs off the wildflowers and surrounding sweet bush. The puddles on the ground catch the ever-changing light. It is good to walk at sunrise and again at sunset. Something about it sets the day. Something about it sets the night. There’s no mistaking the truth; these deliberate walks draw us closer to ourselves. They ward off the deep darks and the slow bads. Something about putting one foot in front of the other at pace, allowing new things to enter the field of vision, concentrating on nothing but breathing breaks the anxiety, eases the mind. Something about being slightly too cold for comfort, feeling the wind in our hair, breaking a slight sweat as our strides take the hills. Submitting to the will of nature brings us out of our heads and inside our hearts, limbs, breath.
One of the truest things about being human is that we see the world through particular filters, according to what we have experienced in the past and have now come to believe. This is no exact science, of course, and can hardly be relied upon. However you slice it, the past is always a different colour. Here in the present, we are often so desperately underwhelmed, distracted, scared. Scared! I often wonder why it is easy to prime ourselves for the worst when there are nothing but miracles happening around us. But reality is a many-pronged thing. Wildlife and ambulance sirens. Rainbows and horrible violence. Summertime and alcoholism. We live inside a circular wonder, yet the wonder completely escapes us most of the time. Everything is many things, and life happens in the places where we rest our attention.
You just asked me what I was thinking. How best to answer? How do we begin to try and explain any or all of the growing wilderness happening inside us? How do you say everything and nothing? How do you say colour and lights, fear of the end of us, arousal, excitement and grief,
and also, I love you? How do you say all of those things and mean all of these strange, twisting things at once? How do you put words to the doubt, the growing unease, the potential for boredom, destruction, rage?
I say, not much. Not much, because there are no adequate words for any of this, and I think you already know that. Every time we think we figure it out, there are always new equations to grasp, to worry over. Every time we solve the code, we realise the answer was stored inside us. There are no new words for the ahas and the oh yeses. They are always being born, and they are always as old as time.