On Monday I went up to the mountains above El Escorial (again!), to the North of Madrid. I walked for half and hour in light rain up through naked oak woodland until I got to a half-way point where the trail levels out for a while. This point was just below the thick cloud line, and standing looking across an ancient dry-stone wall and the field beyond, I could see what happens at the base of a rain cloud. It was fascinating!
Great banks of sweeping moisture as big as Madrid apartment blocks danced left and right, back and forth, up and down the slope that rose again beyond, greys, blacks, whites, like vast spirits hurling themselves around the mountain, casting off millions of droplets of water as they spun one way and another.
“I’ve got my head in the clouds!” I thought. “Truer than ever!”
I came back down the hill immensely happy. This is what life is about! Being outside, looking around!
I’m lucky to have found some excellent literary wandering companions recently. Stephen Graham and his ‘The Gentle Art of Tramping’. Hermann Hesse and his ‘Wandering’.
A friend asked me just now on the phone if I had any grand Projects for 2016 (meaning beyond normal life projects like parenting, work, etc). I’ve always had ‘Projects’. I’ve suffered unless I’ve had ‘Projects’. And right now I have none that I can put my finger on (or none that I can explain in simple terms so other people can say, ‘oh yes, that sounds productive, or amazing’).
Just ‘Wandering’. Exploring. Seeing. Getting my head in the clouds every now and again. Filling blank books with related notes and sketches. Plenty! I need little more than a wood and a rain cloud to make me happy!
True! The previous night I’d been tangling myself up trying to answer the self-imposed question “What would make me happy? What would I enjoy doing?” – trying to work out what to do next in life. On my way down that mountain I realised that I was doing something that made me immensely happy right then, and that it had involved no analysis or introspection, I’d just got in the car and gone and done something I already love without thinking! Don’t plan happiness, I thought, just do what you like doing already and enjoy it! Made me laugh at myself on the way down.