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the dubious pleasures of getting lost


i went on a short walk today, around the 'other side' of the land. it was intended to be a circular walk i'd been on many times before, but this time i thought i'd stretch it just a little further than usual before plunging down the ravine and crossing the stream.

i'd picked up a large, heavy deer's antler along the way. i was nervous somehow to pick it up. it seemed an odd thing to be carrying, from the point of view of the owner. i also had no idea how it had come to be lying on the ground. the part which was broken off was cleanly sealed. almost white. once it was in my hand though, i felt as if it were keeping me company.

my steps took on a life of their own. my mind wandered. it wandered on the mossy fallen branches, over the dead brown fallen leaves, it wandered over the evermoving surface of the stream, and across the mud, skittering over the bright yellow marsh marigolds, settling for milliseconds on the tips of young nettles.

my steps and my mind synchronised, i was swinging the antler, i was hot and took off a few layers, could feel my breathing thickening, the sun in my hair.

i came out of the trance for a second and looked around, it was all familiar – and yet not.

wherever i looked there were the same combinations of birch trees, banks, mud, streams, larger forest in the distance, hills rising on either side. but the patchwork was slightly skewed. my legs took me up the hill, and then my mind, slightly perturbed now, took me back down again, settling into a groove, then it jolted – yeah i really had absolutely no clue where i was – and off my legs would go again, not allowing my mind to reflect at all. leg-logic, it's safer to just wait until everything clicks into place.

except it didn't.

i felt as if i'd passed through the looking glass. in one swift move i gave up all attempts to try and retrace my steps or remember anything whatsoever. if I was lost, i was lost.

just wished my legs hadn't taken me quite so far, in the meantime.

i waved the antler, trying to use it like a pendulum or dowsing rod to tell me the way home. after confirming its total non-reaction i decided to blame it for having cursed me, and left it in one of those boggy patches, by one of those streams. aim for a high point and look for a house, i decided. brief thoughts about finding shelter for the night started to flash up in my mind like sheet lightning.

it's quite easy to lose your bearings. it's quite easy to lose your mind.

i found some houses, and an old man who dragged himself out of his sunday squalor to show me the way back home, i had no idea how to explain it really, but he knew. he waved his hand despondently and reminded me that there were wolves.

when i got back home, i felt as if I'd been away for years. my heart had had a good workout. my mind was sobered, lying still, and needed a very long drink of water. i sat down here to write. the sun was going down. i was quite certain that i was alive.

#sunset #birches

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