Rushing back from London via Kendal, a week of grim streets, no horizons, great friends and photo shows, then village people, a few cliques and egos, some good films and colleagues, I find myself here:
Sunday morning, only a drive away but a lifetime away from young men in sharp clothes with something to prove and nothing to lose. I'm talking about London, not Kendal, although... although all that worldly ambition leaks through, doesn't it, much as our pastoral escape to the country narrative tries to stop it. We take it with us. We're always there.
I took work with me on the first day of my winter season, in the form of gear to test, but otherwise I cleared my head. London hadn't been so terrible - after four years I couldn't feel more ambiguous about the place, and less ambiguous about the friendships I still feel bad for deserting there. I didn't really feel anything about the city itself, anymore. I was always trapped there, until I wasn't. I don't loathe London anymore, but you can keep it if you want it.
I wrote a long time ago I'm not escaping from something, I'm escaping to... that seeking more contact outdoors is a positive thing, not a negative one... but it turns out that I'm still grappling with it, that reaching escape velocity is a terribly hard thing to do. Most days, looking after my little one and emailing (ffs!) to put bread on the table I'm less sure than ever about where is from and where is to. Those whose lives have a clearer narrative arc tell a cleaner story - I got clear, my needs are selfish, but they are mine, and I'm claiming them, NOW!
A good time, all the time. Not a little greedy, but who can really blame them? Then again, we're so busy defending our cognitive bias that when the chickens come home to roost (Paris, most recently) none of us compute. So much public hand wringing. As much as I know it's a manifestation of an attempt to understand, it's still sickening. A bit too close to home now? Apparently it's controversial apologism to say this... Maybe it's not us who can't afford our lavish lifestyles. We've been externalising our costs to the other for so long now that our parents are justifying to their grandchildren. It's generational. From cognitive bias to cognitive dissonance and back again. Mob insanity.
So, I come up for air. One more time. And it works, I feel better. The hill is busy with people out enjoying the first day of Scottish Alpine. I don't vant to be alone, I just need some perspective. And here it is, away from digitised chest thumping and moral outrage, away from the business of property and adventure. Some horizon. Every time, it's a fucking miracle.
I stay up high late, then retreat to the Glen for a long, dark walk out with a Polish bathroom fitter I meet on the way. The glens are silent, probably because these hills are sandwiched between Glasgow and Cranlarich and it's easier for most to get back to the city than stay out camping. Half way along the glen, there are diggers and a track extending the hydro scheme; plugging in, extracting resource, tapping energy for the fat machine, so later we can sit on facebook and complain about those we don't understand until we convince ourselves and each other we do. They'd do the same, given half the chance. Lucky for us they don't have one. Polish and I are grateful for the easy ground under our feet, in the short term it makes things easier. The military industrial complex creeps slowly but surely up the mountain. At what point do we put up our hand and shout 'stop'?