Discover more from Huw Lemmey's 'Utopian Drivel'
The end of day 36
Some days, I feel like a bull, even as the sun is still rising. My body feels like a bull. My body, which includes my mind, feels like a bull. I have been walking in the dark for one hour, rising in silence and creeping out of the monastery and into the woods. By now, I am prepared for what the day will hold. 30 kilometres on foot. Trees break to pasture and ahead a track rises hundreds of metres to the mesa.
I am aware of life around me. In the earliest days of starting my journey, I felt in solitude how hectic the earth was. A farmer, a postwoman, amongst a cast of thousands. Across my path two songbirds swoop, as though their wings are a twisted length of string that their flight is unravelling in the breeze. In the morning mist, one hundred rabbits spread across the newly dug fields. Snails, ants, deer, snakes. The wheat in the field struggles from the earth, the first blossoms break.
With euphoria comes an ever-present awareness of death. I never knew this before, that without integrating death into life, you cannot touch what life means. I’m overtaken by it, again, as I ascend to the mesa. If a pilgrimage means anything to me, it means subsuming my self into this world around me. I can feel the dawn breaking behind me. For weeks I walked alone, and my body itself was the devotion. Now I walk with hundreds of others, I am simply part of the body of devotion.
By the time I reach the summit, my body feels like a bull. Steam rises from my chest and arms. Sweat permeates. The smell of yourself never leaves you. Ahead of me lies the mesa. Ten days walk. Behind me, the sun has risen. Within me, another consciousness, a consciousness that is not me. This night I will sleep in a convent. Twenty of us sleep, or don’t sleep, breathe and turn. Outside, cats scramble over terracotta rooftops together. It is hot beneath the crucifix. I feel like a bull, and I grab at my muscles. We are all part of the same body. It is simple, to be.
I am currently walking across Spain, from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean. Paid subscribers can read more about the journey in last week’s post. If you’re not a paid subscriber, why not sign up for regular essays straight to your inbox?