Yesterday, I went for a three-hour wander over Dartmoor.
And got promptly lost, despite the fact that I've walked the ground many times.
If you know or have heard of Dartmoor, it's not the sort of place you want to traverse absent either a map/compass or a working mobile phone. I had neither. That's not quite true, I did have a mobile phone up until the point when I needed it most, and then, you guessed it, the battery, with one last heave, gave out. (I did manage to take the above picture just before it stopped working.)
But I wasn't scared.
Perhaps I should have been.
No. If anything, I wanted to feel... life. I wanted to feel that slight hint of fear, an aching body (my left hip has seen better days) and to remember. To remember that sitting at home (or an office) in a centrally-heated environment isn't, well, normal.
That might sound odd, but it's a recent invention to make things as comfortable as possible for us. No bad thing you say. Of course not, but what, like so many things, have we lost by making life too comfortable?
I'll leave you to make your own list but if this pandemic is reminding us of anything, going back to basics isn't just some romantic space we like to inhabit once in a blue moon, it was like that for many people during the 20th Century and much earlier.
And that meant, in my opinion, everything was valued and valuable.
I've explained a few times how simply Peter and Lorna lived — my much-loved grandparents — and I'm convinced that that was at least part of the reason for their deeply loving, nourishing relationship. It wasn't that making do was the only option, it was their life; and they made the very best of what they had and it brought them and kept them together.
Well, for the majority of us (not all, thankfully), if we want something, well, we just go get it, even if that means saddling ourselves with great gobs of debt. Trust me, I'm no exception: I've got way too much, but as I straddled Dartmoor yesterday, looking out across a windswept scene, it struck me that when all is said and done, we don't need anything save perhaps a very few things to live and be alive, nor to be in harmony with our loved ones, or our community and, most especially of all, the land we've so desperately taken for granted.
Sorry, that sounds like another finger-wagging excoriation. It's not meant to be but I'd love everyone to have the same taste that I had yesterday as I was being blown half to death, I was freezing cold and I didn't have a clue where I was. That was (trust me) much more enlivening than a lifetime of consumption.
I hope you're bearing up. Washing hands. And remembering to keep your distance. I did briefly see online that some people in the UK decided to have one last blow out at the local pub(s). If that's right, then it's redolent of so much that's wrong with our society, not least that people don't give a shit as long as they're having a good time. Personally, I don't know if the story is true, but I hope there's a special place in Hell reserved for anyone so self-absorbed that, as a result of their pub antics, they go on to contract Covid-19 and then kill, yes kill, a loved one or someone close to them.