Hello everyone! La vita é bella. I’m sitting drinking coffee at Olio Bello, a boutique organic olive grove in the Margaret River region a kilometre up the road from the Gracetown caravan park where I’ve stayed these last two nights. I smell of olive oil, sunscreen and green ink and have been up since about 5:30 this morning reading Gregory Bateson and nodding hello to the other park residents in the campers’ kitchen. Two things: yes, Gregory Bateson is only obliquely related to my thesis, but I will sneak him in somewhere. And yes: Gracetown is nowhere near the Bibbulmun Track.
I walked into Pemberton on Thursday evening (the 18th) and I’m not embarrassed to say it: *total rockstar*. I had walked from Collie in six days. Two hundred and forty-one kilometres. Contrary to what `Brian the character’ thought – this bold attempt did not `cook my goose’ (thanks for your concern, Brian). In fact, outside of the Mallacoota kid’s triathlon I did when I was ten (earning a Bronze medal and ending up moaning under a blanket on the sand for about an hour after the race ended), I think this is the most physically demanding thing I’ve done – these six days of around 40km/day, I mean. Not being the kind of goose that relishes painful physical challenges, my Bibbulmun as you’d know, is more the walk-in-the-morning-and-chill-out-in-the-afternoon-in-the-hut variety. And you know what, I understand now the sense of joyful achievement people feel when they do go the extra mile, so to speak, in stretching themselves.
There’s so much I could say, like how it wasn’t `driven Lucy’ pushing me on to keep up the pace and get there; that in the main I felt relaxed of mind, content, loose, even as the body (legs and feet, mainly) hurt and were tired with up to nine or ten hours of actual walking in a day. Or how there was a kind of purposefulness, a focus there whether I was walking, setting up camp, stretching, eating, … that is not my usual way of being (pottering, meandering, drifting, …) – at least for some of the day. For these six days it was like all of me, whole, was intent, yes, on the goal. What a gift to have experienced this! Not just the accomplishment of it, but feeling what it’s like to literally `will one thing’ with my mind and body and my heart… and to be graced with, I don’t know. A kind of softness in the doing of it, which is even the best thing of all.
If I can share something serious about it, at first I would tell myself that my only job was to get to the next hut – that is, not to remind myself of the second hut that afternoon, maybe, or the more huts the next and the next days etc. And then that didn’t sit quite right so I would say, actually, your only job is to put one foot in front of the other, you know. But even then, it seemed my body was doing that anyway, whether I set my mind to it or not. So I thought, ok, your only job is to breathe while the body does its thing. But of course I wasn’t doing the breathing either, so what I ended up saying to myself was that my only job was to witness it happening, and even then it was only if I felt like it. So you see: NO JOB TO DO! This completely spins me out. No job to do, and suddenly there I was in Pemberton after walking for six days.
Anyway. I don’t know how that lands with you, but for me that’s like I don’t know. A nugget of gold there in the sand when I was just washing in a stream.
And now here I am in Gracetown, Ohio Bello terrace actually, with my coffee now finished, under an olive tree clothed in tiny baby olives, thinking of you all. So happy to share my travels. And this afternoon or tomorrow I’ll start walking the Cape to Cape track with someone dear, who is the reason for this hiatus, this blessed deviation, this erring on the side of… and in a few days time I’ll catch the bus back to Pemberton and pick up the Bibbulmun thread again only two days behind my initial schedule.
You are all in my thoughts and in my heart, y buen camino a todos!