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A Rugged, Impetuous ‘Adventure’

April 18, 2014

There is something utterly stifling about being inside a house for multiple days. Call it monotonous, dull, dreary… or even just admit that a bit of variety can go a long way. The Romantics, perhaps, were onto something when they propagated the value of nature against the city. And, modern research tends to bear this out. For instance, Japanese researchers found that after a 20 minute walk in a forests that people experienced reduced levels of anger, anxiety, depression and blood pressure – to put it in layman’s terms.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Awhile back, I laid out a very brief case for walking. But frankly… how often do you actually walk relatively pleasurably somewhere? Or, how often do you walk somewhere that you don’t have to? How often do you avoid walking and take a car if possible?

It is easy to rationalise away why you don’t go walking… just like rationalising away why you don’t exercise enough, or study enough. To say the timing “wasn’t quite right” or to say “next weekend” . It is all too easy to take the path of least resistance on a day to day basis. Of course, if you wish to rise atop a mountain, you may need to climb a steeper gradient. That is, exertion is indispensable to forge brilliance.

And what reminded me of this? A decision to walk and explore around my neighbourhood. It is a pleasure so oft forgotten. Or, a case where discretion is the better part of valour

I decided to leave my house around 12:30pm on an impulse. I started out jogging – I had meant to do exercise – but slowed down and decided to walk to a park which I remembered being at years ago. Of course, I lacked the park’s exact location, but I knew the general direction. So I began walking past streets which I had no memory of. It was beautiful. You could look at houses beautiful and in shambles, a gentle breeze blowing by you, and new scenery gently arousing your senses. I remember stopping a few times to look at the front yards of some houses.

I remember this one house. The lawn sloped away from the road, as if inviting you downwards into the home, and the steps down were adorned by a neat row of roses. ‘The garden path.’ Anyhow, I continued on, passing a park I’d never seen, and then I came across a curious sidestreet. It was a dead end, but I decided to explore it. At the end of short sidestreet was a rockface strewn with dead leaves, which then opened into a dappled set of trees. There seemed to be a path. I looked at my watch, and said that I had enough time to explore the path. Well, I walked on.

At first it was a rather dull path. In fact, I found what looked to be a worn bit of concrete on the path at 2 distinct points. Perhaps it was once a road? The day’s heat was picking up, and after half an hour of running and jogging, I could feel a bead of sweat on my forehead. I almost turned around to go back home, but I pressed on. And then… I heard the sound of a stream. The path was leading somewhere!

I got down to the stream. It was a curious sight. You could see rocks piled against each other further up the stream – a landslide from long ago – yet turn your head and see a dam like construct of perfectly flat rock carved at right angles. This, under shade and with flowing water running across rocks with a sheen of moss. It was soothing.

I proceeded to – with some effort and near catastrophes on the slippery rocks – make my way upstream across rocks. I could see my destination – a place where rocks came together to impede any further progress, yet one where a small waterfall of sorts was running. And I got there, my water bottle still firmly in my right hand. I stood atop 2 seperate rocks that were extremely slippery with a sheen of moss, and I smiled. And then, impulsively, I reached out with my left hand to feel the water running, as if to splash my face. As if to be reinvigorated. It just wouldn’t be the same using a water bottle.

No points for guessing that this is where it went wrong.

One of my feet slipped, and off-balance (from the 2 slippery rocks) I began to fall to my left. I flailed for purchase with my left hand, but being outstretched underneath the water, it was too far to grasp for purchase upon the surrounding rocks. Then, I smashed into a jagged rock, falling hard on my left side. It was all very sudden.

I got up, my left thigh very sore, and left hand slightly bleeding, but otherwise fine for falling sideways a metre upon a jagged rock. Later, when I got home I discovered my left foot was also bleeding (and, in a decidedly Un-Romantic manner, began to liberally apply stain remover to the carpet after a drop or two of blood fell as I took off my shoes!) . But, I didn’t notice it then. I was more mortified that my ‘pocketwatch’ – in my left pants pocket at the time – had cracked in the fall.

At this point you’d think it would be time to go home. Not so. I decided to go the other direction in the stream for a fair while, till I came to an impassable juncture with massive slabs of rock – clearly, a landslide from long ago – framing the scene. I then turned around, and made my way back. At one point, I nearly fell over on my right leg, but I kept my balance. It was interesting, because in this situation I recognised the split second where I could grasp for purchase, or move my feet to change my stance. Whereas when I fell it all happened so quickly.

I got back home at around 2:20pm, and they had that little incident with carpet, and the need to clean up after bleeding – of which it is truly refreshing after you have actually braved the outside world a little – meant a late lunch at 3:10pm.

I would not give up the experience I had, and I would do it again, and urge you all to go for a walk more than you do. But, discretion is the better part of valour. You might save yourself some problems if you don’t act so impetuously.

Remember, planning and intentionality lay behind many great deeds, and behind recreation.


From → Foundations

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