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Rupert Graves- Letter to my younger self- The Big Issue Magazine

Just a couple of days after reading about Awe Walks for the first time (see previous post) I bought The Big Issue and in the Letter to my younger self whereby a famous person looks back (always good and often very moving, and which have now been collected into a book) were the words above from Rupert Graves. Definitely an Awe Walk. Here is another of my own Awe Walks, taken again from the little book documenting my ‘spiritual awakening,’ (available super cheap on amazon)

Let’s go for a walk, Part 2 (or, Heaven on Earth)

I had to go to Wales again for work. It was almost two years since my first trip, when I’d been so scared about driving there. This time, it didn’t even cross my mind to be nervous. I arrived in the sunshine and spent an easy afternoon at the hospital, being shown around and doing the work I needed to do. In the therapy office, waiting for my host, I glanced around the room: overflowing notice boards, information leaflets, resource folders, work boots and shelves of books. I scanned the book titles: two were about magic. Was that just the Universe reminding me, yet again, that magic is everywhere?

Because it certainly was. I finished my work and drove to my hotel. A budget chain hotel, it was situated in what at first glance did not look like a pretty area: close to a big roundabout in a concrete landscape of office premises. It was still light, sunny and relatively warm. I got some chocolate and a drink out of the vending machine and went outside to stretch my legs. I thought about asking the woman on the desk if there was anywhere nice to go for a walk but she was busy checking in another guest. I walked out the back of the car park to a scrubby grassy area, there was a path lightly littered with rubbish, a few trees shading the path. I found a more definite path and then all of a sudden there was a river, flowing over and between big, grey rocks with a waterfall. I went down to the water’s edge. It was so isolated, all of a sudden, even though it was just moments from the hotel.

I went back up to the path and now it was a real path, in a real wooded area, the litter had disappeared. All of a sudden, there was a canal, with lovely little boats moored up, paint peeling, covered in algae, hemmed in by what looked like years of waterweed. It reminded me of when I first met John, and he was living on a boat on a canal. Was it a metaphor or not even a metaphor, a real life tableau, an illustrated live experience of This is your life?

Here we have John, waiting, stuck, as I might have thought. A little way along, the boats disappear and here’s me or rather, a location for me: the water’s surface green with plants and sparkling golden in the light, like Ophelia’s grave. I was here. Despairing, suicidal and romantic.

I followed the towpath. Everything became lighter and prettier. The water was like glass, reflecting the huge green trees that lined the bank.
A group of dog walkers came past with not just one but four lovely, bouncy dogs, who all, dogs and people, stopped for a friendly hello.

Through the trees, I glimpsed a huge cemetery, which gave me a momentary pause: evoking a layer of gravitas to my skippy summer-autumn walk; increasing my gratitude and the urgency and importance of appreciation; reminding me that I was alive. Beyond the cemetery, a rolling vista of green, sloping down towards houses in the distance. It was as if every view imaginable had been laid on just for me.

There was a field with sheep in it, another with cows and then a friendly horse looking over the fence at me. Around each curve of the river, something new and more lovely than the last. I wondered when I should turn back or if I should just stop for a rest: a little bench appeared for me to sit down on.

Bridges, each one quainter than the last, made of roughly hewn pale stone, dinky, just big enough to walk under, it was like being a child. They were numbered 52; 53; 54; John’s age? The future? Tracking the course of our life?

You couldn’t make it up.

My senses tingled. My soul soared.

Silver- really silver- birch, almost gold in the late afternoon light as if it had been painted, washed with metallic paint. Who knew you could get silver trees? Real, silver trees? Not in a royal palace or a rock star’s deluxe OTT garden or on some fairytale film set but just out here, on a walk that anyone could go on.

Hobbit fantasy land like tree roots, travelling down over the whole surface of the steep bank so that I could see them all in all their twisted glory: as if the steep bank was there on purpose.

Like life… it just got more and more beautiful, it went on for how long, who knows, when to stop, when did it start?

I could have asked about somewhere to go for a walk. I could have turned left instead of right. I could have found out all about it, read about it in a guidebook, looked it up on the internet. Maybe I alighted on the only pretty stretch or maybe it was this pretty for twenty miles or more.

I hadn’t had a drink, I hadn’t been meditating and I wasn’t tired. I’d just been working and then driven to the hotel. So what tripped me over into this state of grace? Maybe the chocolate in the hotel vending machine was spiked. I’ll never know.

Thank you very much for reading

Please feel free to share your own awe walk experiences!

Self portrait, Pushkar, India 2020

About the author

In 2018 in our forties and fifties my husband and I sold up, gave away most of our possessions, and went travelling for a year, mainly in India, and also to Thailand, Tokyo, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam. My personal/spiritual/travel memoir of the year is completed and out with agents. I live on a narrowboat in rural Northamptonshire UK with my husband and two cats.

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