These days, beyond the consumables to live, and access to the internet, there’s nothing I feel I need. I also couldn’t afford to buy anything, and I’ve got no house to put it in anyway. Packing to move my life somewhere else can be a matter of half an hour, and if I couldn’t take anything with me, I don’t think I would mind. I don’t externalise myself as much in physical items now. I respect the energy that’s gone into physical items but I don’t really own them anymore. There’s none of the fear or stress there used to be when they owned me.
On the walk, the burden of possessions was very literal. Anything I bought, I would have to carry, which immediately put me off. It’s a different perspective, to see that when we give people possessions it can be a psychological burden.
In Ridgewood community cafe next to a nursery, the chairs and sofas sit under large skylights and the stone walls are covered in pictures and the staff are immensely friendly. Sitting with my tea I look around with affection at the many mums and their babies, gathering to connect with each other. Another three mums with pushchairs come in. Well dressed and beautiful, their huge smiles and body language shows their relief at having time together and out of the house. They are happily talking about the number of children they want. Two of them want four, and one wants five. “But my husband doesn’t, he’s one of three so he thinks we should stop at three.”
The offhand tones, makes me sag in my seat. I’m thirty one. I would like to have a child too. Just one. But the decision is anything but simple. Even if I were blessed with a healthy child, it would be at odds with population degrowth and what the future seems to have in store for my life. I hear one of the ladies say her brother has four children too. I finish my tea quickly and leave.
It’s harmful to compare one life journey with another. The last two years have been the best and most fulfilling of my life. There’s no point in pining for any other. I don’t know for sure why I want to have a child, it could be ego, a need to love, biology, long term tactics. But, I honestly feel like I want to meet them… out of hope.
The tower monument in the distance was on top of the hill and I felt a disappointment and realisation that my shoulders hurt, my legs hurt and I wasn’t going to make it. I looked at where it was on the map. On paper it was closer than I had intended to go that day, yet I could see I wasn’t going to make it to Dursley that night. There was nothing else to do but keep walking anyway. It was not as if I had anything else to do.
A few hours later I was standing at the base of the monument buffeted by the wind, in shock and feeling rather humble that I had underestimated walking so much and given up hope so easily. The beauty of the Cotswolds really grabs you as you walk in from the west, and being able to see where you are headed and how far you’ve come is quite a shock. Fields, hills, hedges, patches of trees.
I stood for a moment leaning into the wind and found that it was able to take a good portion of my weight, except when it suddenly changed. As I walked along the hill top my backpack was catching the wind and it became difficult to walk, the noise was tremendous and I found myself staggering to the side constantly with the gusts. Suddenly my backpack cover was ripped off my pack and went flying off across the hill, and across the car park. Desperately I waddled after it as fast as I could, and about 80m further on was rewarded when it became stuck in a hedge.
Coming down the other side of the hill through steep woodlands I was out of the wind but the trees were not. They swayed and groaned most alarmingly and I felt I was not in a good situation.
I was about two thirds down the hill when I heard a loud CRACK explosion sound very nearby.