Here we are, then. The two of us, as if in a hut, taking out those things we have brought with us, laying them out before us on the floor, which experience affords. What will be needed on our journey? What may be left behind?
It is strange, this journey. Because although it lies ahead of us, we begin with those things that lie behind. I have never been a reluctant time-traveller, and nor, I think, have you. Anyone working with children, is future-directed. The rate of change that is life to a seven year old, or a fourteen year old, is incredible; they rocket into the future. Being with a classroom of kids is like swimming with a shoal of fast-paced fish.
But we are aging, now. We have much accumulated experience. And yet, your future direction is incredible, you remain one of the most future-orientated people I know. So, it surprises me that we start this journey before we take a step. I want out, moving on, as quickly as possible. I carry nothing. I feel we can decide as we take steps. But of course, this is a fool's approach, and all too many times I have conducted a journey ill-prepared. When I crossed the island of Flores alone when I was barely into my twenties, and even a few weeks ago, swimming 10km along the coast of Madeira; in both situations, I barely scrape by, and should misfortune have occurred in greater quantity, there would have been little record of my attempt or experience. Not only physically, but psychically, I have gone out on journeys where I have little preparation.
So, I appreciate the time you are taking to consider what we will need. But I want to make sure that we have an idea of what this journey may consist of. As far as I can tell, the objects we see can easily be those we produce from our baggage. We bring out a map, and the mountain on it becomes the mountain we need to climb. The troubles and tribulations we evoke from the past, are the gorges, the deep ravines. The dynamics we have experienced, become the storms we shall need to face.
I do not want to reproduce the past, my past travels, my past experience. And yet, there were insights, opportunities, that I saw that I would like to see again, perhaps. But these are not to be carried, they are not heavy, they do not constitute baggage. These are like breaks in the clouds, sunbeams, or starlight, such wonders that we have been privileged to witness. This is what our journey may consists of. It makes me laugh, it sounds like the journey to see the wizard of Oz.
And yet, it is made flesh, one step at a time, with our feelings. You have much to give, it seems to me, Pam. I can see hope in your eyes, I can feel it in you actions. I visceral spirituality. A vitality. And with it, inevitably, the tears, the sweat of your effort. You have something to contribute that can be shared here, in these letters. Sadness, deep sadness, which I have experienced with you, in person, the frustration too. I know of this, because I have too met with frustration, weighed down in the mire of organisational thinking, of too many people weighed down by the weight of their own skulls, that can not escape from the webbed gravity of dead matter, who insist on seeing things as "the way things are".
Well, it seems to me at least, that the way things are are pretty dire, from global environmental situations, to massive politico-economic systems that are simply too taxing for us simple human beings. The "way things are" demand change. And though I do not take our letters to be a manifesto, or a full charge for change, I'd rather take them to be a respite from the madness, ballast to blind positivity, the spirit of hope taken step by step with the heaviness of failure. That is, our journey, towards its end may take so much of will to put one step before the other, as our dead matter resists the rise of another step, our lungs suffer from another intake of breath, and yet, we will inspire, we will forge another step ahead. Miraculously. Miraculously because we are still taking steps, we are still breathing, miraculously, because we will have travelled so far, and miraculously because we will have reached our objective.
Reluctant time-traveller? Not me. I have been there, the future. It is a funny place, full of uncertainties, and yet, there are simple places to rest. So simple, so easy.
If we are to engage in such a way that another may wish to follow, do you think they shall be reluctant, or full of vigour like us? Their task is easier in some ways, and harder in others. They read, and their reading is hard when our turns come fast, our steps shift from walk to jog to run, and even into the space where there is flight and no imprint is made in the land, in word, but in the air, in the vaguaries of thought and the higher ambience of spirit.
I would encourage you to be brave. To start out. To take steps forwards. To lead me to a peak, or down into a ravine, into a cavern or catacomb of the mind. To descend into the depths of darkness that nonone has had the courage to put words to. Not as the doom-sayers do, with all their flurry and gusto as if with relish. But reluctantly, to draw attention to the disaster, to take each step with dread. Write how you feel, if tears come to you, how hard it is to find words -- but do so! For I shall read, I shall follow you! What you have remarked recently, has been powerful, and I left my own thoughts, my world, and went with you. Death, Pam, you are brave enough to live with it far closer than I. You have one arm extended to friends in situations that we see only on TV documentaries, to people whose hands lose grip and slide away, unwatched but for those around them and the few who extend their arms in friendship. And your other arms, you take my hand, and others, who rial against this and that, who are caught up in our fictions, in the anxieties and neuroses of a western culture.
I have attempted to shine a light through the shadows, the illusions so many people live in. I have failed to vanquish the demons of their imagination. We need to bring a sense of reality to these western lives, these worlds of celebrity and hair styles, home decoration and landscape gardening, morning yoga and evening dinner table conversations, the troubles of when to buy the next model of iphone or car. You gave me two hundred and fifty pounds, and its use was swallowed in a gulp, where it could have furthered the lives of many you know. It is not guilt that motivates me in this; guilt never has. It is inspiration. It is real. It is value. It is trust.
So, lead me to where others dare not go. No NGO, no charity. Not even the bland screen of tv reportage, for all its window clarity, separates the news-at-ten viewer from the viewed, from the privileges nibbling on corn-chips and the starving, tortured, exploited on the other side of the screen. Take my hand, Pam, and lead.
I know you may turn one way and the other as we go on, from your hand flash in insight into what is possible, from you other hand a parting in the clouds to a distant peak we may all for a moment glance, a brief inspiration. But let us not be distracted as we decend. And should you falter in this, feel free to take your steps towards me. If anger rises, then direct it at me. Bring out the trouble you had in your decision to give me money, the demands on your attention, your heart. For I shall bear it, I promise. There will be plenty of opportunity for excitement, for inspiration, for movement to higher places, realms of established goodness, and the fresh air of hope. But be brave, be light, take nothing but courage and the fortitude you have demonstrated throughout your life. And I shall follow.