Beginnings, Middles & Endings

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Q: You walk out of your door. You do not know how far you will go, how long it will take, if or when, you will return? How do you feel?

Q: You pick up a book, read the first line. You cannot turn the pages to discern the length of the story, or genre – is it a thousand pages, two pages? A novel, a poem, fact or fiction? How do you feel?

Time lives in your bones, in your blood, in aortic beats; shifts of light, shadows lengthening, waxing and waning; flexing, stalking your steps, a rhythm, a prelude, rarely linear but in swerving paths, swoops and dives, edited, archived, forwards and backwards.

Do you begin a book begin by intent or accident? Does a walk live in your head or in a map?

Does the spirit stir you sudden, curious, impatient, propelling you through granite streets; salty breeze; diesel blue fumes; yellow ragged Hawkbit shooting through mud? How hard the heart pumps, ancient, limbic, each step a hymn (each page) a gift: insight, wisdom, perspective, escape, an altered glimpse of yourself, a deer’s prance in the corner of your eye.

Which leads you to the middle (Who remembers the middle?)

It’s vague paths, muddy tracks, broken stiles, crowded by bramble, hidden in fields of corn, (or buried in a plot with too many characters).

The beginning is far behind. The end too far to imagine. Uncertainty nags and claws: Is this the right path? (the right page)

Time still to turn back (throw the book down) retrace your step to

the point of variance; between disintegration and reintegration;

the gap in the hedge, the unmarked path.

Nothing happens in the middle.

The middle is a matter of faith.

But endings are something else, aren’t they?

Slow burning, molecules rumbling minutely to a conclusion; (atom and leaf). Or previewed from high on a hill cars cluttering villages. A dark body of water. A dead green line on the page.

Or, they arrive abruptly – ad-libbing across empty fields, cresting a hill, forking a corner, (an unsatisfactory conclusion).

Instinctively, the body knows; aches and burns, the mind’s chatter starts anew:

What a relief?

Cup of tea?

(is there a sequel?)

Did you take pictures?

(make notes in the margins?)

We give prizes at the end. And, return you to routine, yarrow and dirt, a miner’s lamp

shining between your steps (words), remade, made again

(In your end is your beginning:

In the beginning is your end)

Again. And again. And Again.

We walk.

We read.

We walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time lives in your bones, a pulse and tap to the brain; to the ear and eye, in shifts of light, the locus waxing and waning. Time is never invisible. It flexes, stalking your steps, a rhythm of beginnings, middles and endings. The line is rarely straight; vectors, curves, parabolas, scientific.

 

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An invitation to walk creatively…

 

IMG_0903We walk for many reasons – utility, leisure, relaxation. Sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Walking is an act of connecting, with ourselves, our thoughts, with the world around us. We may be attentive to our surroundings or lost in thought, playful or serious.

The following is an invitation to walk consciously, to walk with awareness, with our imaginations, with our bodies, taking in the sights, smells, sounds and textures around us, beneath our feet. To be aware of memories and associations that arise with each step.

A walk does not have to take long. It can be a matter of minutes as much as hours. Step into your comfortable shoes, head out of the door – even if only into your garden, or street – or, beyond into an unfamiliar place. Catch a bus or train, drive, stopping at an unknown destination and begin to walk whichever way you fancy.

Walk with a question

Think of a question/statement– e.g., ‘What is my relationship to walking?’  ‘Places Remember Events….’ Walk with this question/statement in mind, noticing your surroundings, the immediate and distant, memories, associations and feelings.

Walking the rim of a glass

Spread your map on the table, place a glass down on the map, and draw a circle around it, then go out and walk around the line (the size of glass will reflect the distance to travel). Note what happens when you have to deviate from the line – points of dissention or triumph –  What is the area like around you? How does it make you feel? What gets in the way of the line? What are your physical and emotional reactions when this happens?

 Drift

Use a Smartphone App like Drift or Trespass. Follow its instructions as precisely as you can. Note where it takes you – do you discover unfamiliar places?

What are they like? How do you feel following instructions?

Instinct

Just go, get out there, in whichever direction you want. Follow your own curiosity, or your mood or your feet. Do you want to be alone/ in a crowd/climb high/see water/woods/fields/buildings? Note what happens as you walk, your physical and emotional reactions to place, the feelings, associations and memories evoked, especially at points where you change direction.

The map precedes the territory

Plot your route on a map first, then walk it exactly.  How does the map compare to the actual walk? What assumptions do you have? It is easy to follow? How does the map change the way you walk? What do you discover? What information does the map provide? What information is missing?

Random – roll the dice

Create your own algorithm. One for forward, two for back, three left, four right, five roll again, six, wild card.

Mindful Walking – Using the senses

 Walk methodically, noting: 5 things you see/ 5 things you hear/5 things you smell. 5 things you can feel/touch. Note how they change as you walk. Which of your senses is least/most dominant?

When you have completed three or four cycles, add:

  • What associations/memories does this place hold for me?
  • How do I feel about it? (e.g., anxious/lighthearted)

 Macro to Micro

Find a path away from a road – it could be in the middle of a field or wood – anywhere, where you can walk for 10-20 paces (or 5 mins on your phone timer), and walk very, very slowly – so slowly you can feel your feet rise and fall, sense your muscles moving. Take note of your body, your breathing.  Narrow your vision to what is immediately around you, as if you are drawing a small circle. What can you hear/smell/touch? Stop at a point which particularly interests you and zoom in even closer (this could be down to a lump of soil or blade of grass) and focus on it. Can you name it or describe it? What associations/imaginings does it conjure?

CHECK-IN (some general thoughts)

As you walk, you may want to consider:

  • The relationship between your mind and body: how your pace changes and why.
  • What does the ground feel like under your feet?
  • Where does your mind drift? What triggers memories and associations.
  • What would you do if you no-one was looking/or if you were a child?
  • What do you feel?

You may want to capture your walks by taking pictures, keeping notes, sketches, picking up found objects on your way, using voice memos on your phone, (but do not let the walk capture you).

If you walk with others, observe a period of silence. Make time post-walk to discuss your experiences: the similarities and differences.

Writing the Map is funded by The Arts Council.

For further information, contact:

Email: createlearnconnect@gmail. Com

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Twitter @writingthemap

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