Yesterday, I wrote about life’s uncertainty in the morning and in the afternoon it was affirmed – several times! I’ve also written about my (non)sense of direction this too was confirmed beyond any possible doubt! Lost again BUT found in a wonderful world.
A map is not a guarantee
This time, I thought we would be ‘foolproof’ as Julie and I set out on one of (now legendary) walks in the New Forest. We had a route and directions, what could possibly go wrong! It was a 5 mile circular walk and for once we would be following a route and not depending on our (non)sense of direction. Three minutes later, we were lost for the first of many times. Did left at the gate mean this gate or that gate? I think we chose the right path but the next direction was to follow the grassy path by the Sweet Chestnut tree. We found the tree but couldn’t see any path, maybe it had overgrown, maybe the path was hidden by the prolific growth of ferns, maybe it was a badly worded description (it was) or maybe we were simply lost again (we were)!
Half way round the route was a pub. So we (eventually) found our way there zig-zagging our way through some of the most incredibly beautiful countryside imaginable. It was a blessing that in the middle of the Summer school holidays, in the busiest time in this tourist area, we didn’t see one other person – it was also a curse because we had no-one to ask. However, a couple of hours later we arrived at the pub on the route and took the opportunity to sit in the gardens there with a drink and packet of crips. Now all we had to do was follow the directions from this point on our map.
Not surprisingly, we got lost within five minutes of leaving the pub. This was entirely the fault of the map and instructions, which didn’t mention a fork in the path or that we had to cross a bridge but on this occasion we worked out we had gone wrong and retraced our steps until we were back on the right path again.
This was the last time we would be able to make such a claim. We never saw one of the five stiles we were meant to cross, or the Lily Pond, or the double barred gate. However, we spent the next five (yes FIVE hours) walking in the most divine countryside with only ponies, donkey and cows to share it with. The only humans we saw were two people jogging but we didn’t have the energy to catch up with them or the breath to shout for help!
A new route
As the sun sank lower in the sky and we passed through the varied domains of forest, heath and sandy hills, a man and his dog ran past us and gave us the opportunity to ask the way. Surprisingly, we were going in the wrong direction – imagine that! He said that we could go back the way we’d come or there was an alternative.”There is a shorter way” he said “what shoes have you got on? You’ll get wet feet“. We didn’t like the idea of turning round and so we went for the latter option. The directions sound simple but the ground we walked on was covered in heather and not even remotely damp. “Perhaps it’s dried up?” we said “Perhaps he was being over cautious?”
More than a bit!
Forty minutes later, we realised that far from being over cautious, our friendly samaritan had vastly underestimated the state of what was essentially a marshy bog that even the animals hadn’t ventured into. Almost immediately we started to sink into the boggy wetness, trying to keep moving before we sank. Then it got much worse.
Looking back we could see that we were at least half way and the most sensible option was to keep going. It got worse before it got better! It was difficult to judge where it was best to stand. Some safe looking patches were deceptive, we both had moments where we sank up to our shins in muddy water. Had anyone been there they would have heard our intermittent screams and laughter for miles.
It was one of the funniest and enjoyable moments I’ve had in a long time. On occasions we were both unable to walk because we were laughing so much and then laughing more because when stopped we started to sink. Eventually, of course we did find the path that took us back to where we had parked our cars. Exhausted but happy we drove home in the twilight. Stopping to see deer and cows with very young calfs on the way.
We may have missed an enjoyable stroll in the countryside but we had an adventure that only Enid Blyton could have imagined. We experienced almost every positive emotion possible but awe, gratitude and humour were the most prolific although hope was more or less absent most of the time. Even Bear Grylls would have admired our resilience, perseverance and misplaced optimism.
There isn’t a map or guide book that can create this sort of experience and although I wouldn’t like to repeat it every time (or in Winter!) we were held mindfully and absorbed totally in a world of wonderful uncertainty. We got lost but then look what we found!
Please note: I am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings. For sensible subjects and writing please visit Positive Psychology Learning website