Uncivilisation part two: It is now one week since the close of the Dark Mountain (DM) festival but it seems much longer. A week back at work trying to deal with piles of documents, minutia, and detail means that the magic of DM now feels like a half remembered dream. Never the less, I have thought of little else since.
We are the stories we tell ourself, and I keep telling myself it is time for a change. This could be location, career, both, or something else. I can’t tell if it is change for change sake, and likewise, I couldn’t ascribe a value to this either way: is this a good thing or a bad thing…?
In the intervening week I have had a couple of chances to try and articulate what I got from DM to different people and how it fits in with my thinking, my ’world-view’. It turns out that neither are as clear as I think they are when brought into the realm of spoken language, and I don’t really want to talk about it anyway.
Recently I heard an explanation of a writer’s dabbling with psychedelics and the occult. It put forward that the writer was trying to escape from language, to try to transcend it somehow. Sometimes I feel like this, sometimes all the talking seems trite. In the same vein, a friend told me about somebody she knew who took a vow of silence for one year. I totally get it.
Over the last week I have been reading Martin Shaw’s book - a branch from the lightning tree. It weaves together myth and wilderness rights of passage, the latter commonly based around a four day vigil of fasting and contemplation in a wilderness setting, a forest for example. I am intrigued by this. On several occasions during long distance walks I have started to feel the landscape impose itself on my being - I wanted to say thoughts here but that isn’t quite right. It’s influence is more all encompassing than that because by definition, you are in the landscape and so it affects all of you. You start to think and move with it. I always wondered what would happen if you stayed out long enough? How deep would the affect be? I realise I am using a lot of italics here. This is because these are not simple concepts. If fact they may be the most complex of all.
Anecdotally, and simplistically, the four day vigil offers and opportunity to peel away and shed day to day concerns in order that you can experience and confront an authentic self. Apparently the fasting helps.
Actually, I don’t want to say too much about this here; to do so might kill it. Nevertheless, I feel like if I could do this I could pretty much do anything, and competing it, getting through it, would give me the strength and clarity to create great and positive change in my life. If I do it I will let you know.
The wilderness rights of passage also offers something else. Dispite my demeanour and possible reputation I have a problem spending nights outside alone, or rather… It is complicated. The best way I can describe it is that I am scared of myself scaring myself. I don’t trust myself not to do this. On one level I have no problem being outside on my own at night, but laying in a shelter/tent/bivi, if I hear a noise I can quite easily come up with all kinds of weird shit that will mean that I won’t get any more sleep that night. This has happened on several occasions so now, as the time approaches to set camp for the night I look for reasons to bail out. Anything will do. Truth be told I’m probably planning my ’escape’ mid afternoon onwards. What I need is some positive experiences of dealing with being out along all night, however, it’s got to the point where the fear of fear means I never put myself in that position. I’ll camp down anywhere there are people or the view of a town, but completely away from civilisation is too scary to contemplate. I even know that this is crazy because the only thing I really need to fear is other people, and I don’t really even need to fear that (statistically). I need some way of breaking this cycle, a way of gradually easing into being alone. I need to try a few things out - I have some ideas, but again, if I could accomplish wilderness rights of passage I think these fears would be left far behind.