There is society, where none intrudes
The other day I did it.
‘It’ being going for a healthy walk into the heart of nature…
I didn’t quite reach the destination I had in mind – a beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere – because I went the wrong way and instead found myself in the midst of an eerie swamp (which was rather beautiful and had a bizarre name according to the plaque which detailed the story of the place – people had apparently in the distant past tried to turn swampland into something a little less swampy and… swampy had won).
Yes, there are swamps in the UK, and yes, I was surprised about that too. I know bogs are common here, but this is a little bit more swamp than it is bog. Which is rather exciting because I’ve always had a ‘thing’ about swamps (the Great Dismal is my favourite for some reason. Never been there, don’t really want to go there, but…) and no idea why I have a thing about them.
Here’s a pic to prove it (just in case you think I’m BS-ing… of course a pic doesn’t prove anything):
(for a moment while caught up in the atmosphere of the place I thought that tire was an alligator or perhaps a relative of Nessie since the UK doesn’t have alligators but it does have Nessies)
You’d think that I would do this healthy walk into the heart of nature more often considering that I live just across the road from this popular nature walk which is always busy…
the always busy bit is partly why I don’t do it more often as I still haven’t cured myself of the reflex to avoid people as much as possible.
I’m not really sure if I want to cure myself of that reflex… as what may seem unhealthy may actually be rather healthy (and what may seem healthy may be unhealthy… I came down with a cold after being healthy, I haven’t had a cold in a while while being unhealthy).
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
― George Gordon Byron
On my way back from this adventure which didn’t quite go as planned but in some ways was better than planned (yeah, I’m mainly just saying that to make myself feel less of a failure for forgetting the map, but it is a little true because I found an intriguing place I wouldn’t have found if I hadn’t got lost), I joined up with other people who had (gone the way which I should have gone to get where I had intended to go) been out walking in healthy nature too.
We politely said hello and then… since they had more energy left than I did… they passed me by and kept going, but they didn’t go fast enough to get away (they weren’t actually trying to get away… which was novel). I watched them – a couple, a man and a woman (and their very cute and excitable flappy-eared dog) – from behind.
They held hands, talked, seemed in love with each other and in love with being together, enjoying that connection, but at some point they split up. It was as though a threshold had been crossed, a switch had been flipped. One minute they were intimate and the next they could have been strangers (who were awkwardly in step and this needed adjusting but who was going to be the one to adjust it).
He went ahead, she dawdled a few steps behind.
But they both had the same posture which informed me as to what had happened – we were close to the end of the path and they now could connect to the rest of the world. Their phones were now enabled to access the world at large of which they had been deprived in the depths of nature (you can just about make an emergency call – that’s it). They had both pulled out their phones from their pockets and were checking their messages, emails, and probably social media.
They could access the rest of the world and access to the rest of the world pulled them apart.
While what they did was normal for those living in this modern world… we’re used to people dining together while checking their phones throughout dinner, hanging out with everyone online while with each other… yet… for a moment it seemed… abnormal.
One minute one human had been intimately connected to another, privately with no one else involved (except for voyeur me) and in the next minute, although they were still close physically, they were miles apart.
They finished their walk this way, him far ahead of her by the time they reached the end of the path (I guess he had less going on on his phone than she did). When they got to their car it was almost as though they were strangers carpooling. And yet deep in the swampy woods there was never any doubt that they were a close couple – two people who were intimately connected and suited to each other.
“My alone feels so good, I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude.”
― Warsan Shire
The image stayed with me… or should I say the before and after images stayed with me.
Before being able to connect to the world these two people were inseparable…
After being able to connect with the world these two people were very separate…
What do you think?
And is it something to think about?