This morning I took my little whippet on a walk to the folly above Pontypool. We returned by the Roman road, looping back along the canal and stopping for a chat with my friend at her cafe before returning to the car. In six miles we'd covered a municipal park, ancient tracks, a once-thriving waterway, spring ducklings and lambs and about two dozen dogs that Oscar politely sniffed.
Such is the way of walks, with the variety of what we encounter being very much their essence—or at least outwardly so. For if you're anything like me, there's an inner path too, which is just as varied, just as engaging and just as essential as the steps and stumbles of our physical journey. It's why walking alone—or together in silence—is seldom the solitary experience that it might appear.
And so to start again...
This morning I took my little whippet on a walk to the folly above Pontypool. I thought about grief and what it means; about change and how it takes time; about gardening and moving house and getting old... In six miles I'd sketched out three or four blogs posts, developed ideas for an essay and mused on why, when I'm out walking with Oscar, do we both of us stop to greet so many strangers.
I considered too, a piece I'm drafting on blogging; why we do it; why it matters; and whether the form can ever be serious writing?
These last questions have been turning in my mind for some months—in part, this is because it's the subject of my next book. But it's also because after an intermittent period I've started to post here on the Bike Shed more frequently. And as all bloggers will know, the more regularly we write and comment, the greater the variety of readers and reflections that will come our way.
Or do they?
For this afternoon I read a selection of my regular blog feeds and guess what? They spoke of grief and gardening and moving house and getting old... One even talked of how profound change takes time—mirroring a mile of my walk this morning, on which I'd concluded the orthodoxy of 'progress coming ever more quickly' is a myth. That it's taken 180 years for a female jockey to win the Grand National (also a popular subject this weekend) was my topical evidence of sorts.
Were those synchronicities merely coincidence? I suppose the meditations on grief could have been triggered by the death of Prince Phillip? And might the other similarities be explained by the way in which blogging brings like-minds together? After all, most readers of the Bike Shed are (broadly) of an age, and presumably, they find something here that resonates?
Often when I walk with Jane, she is irritated by my silence; I might as well not be here, she'll say. Few things could be further from the truth, but it's difficult to explain or reconcile. Jane is looking for outward companionship; for us to share and comment on what's occurring around us. Whereas for me, the scenery is secondary to my thoughts; the act of walking as much a means to plot a course as to follow one.
Most times we meet in the middle—and that's a good thing. Which reminds me of a post this afternoon on the subject of intolerance—and by implication, what constitutes an appropriate response to those we disagree with. Some inner reflection is not a bad way to begin. If later we chose to speak directly, then at least our words will be well constructed—and in all probability more rounded. I shall try to remember that thought.
Which is far from certain. Because although I have many an epiphany on my walks and wanderings, I also forget or reject a good number on returning. I never consider these lost intentions to be a waste, nor do I strain to pick up my threads. For I've found the meditative process has a purpose we should trust, including the subliminal rejection of those directions that would lead us astray.
Which feels about the right point to stop.
But before I do, could I ask the bloggers reading this to muse on your life and your writing, how they relate and respond to each other? Does blogging shape your thoughts, or do they determine what you write?
I'll be asking more about this shortly, and am hoping, if you'd be so kind, to receive views To (not from) the Bike Shed. Perhaps that's something you might take on your journeys this week.