In his magnificent book The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Robert Macfarlane binds human imagination and endeavor to their inextricable roots in the routes we traverse. Listening to the audio book with my wife as we returned from a great adventure in the Anza-Borrego desert, his overstanding words couldn’t have resonated to greater profundity. Several choice sound-bites stood out as delightfully apropos to our splendid sojourn. Take in these words. Let them meander through your thought-life as you wander visually through these collective memories. Carry them with you wherever you may go.
“As I envisage it, landscape projects into us, not like a jetty or peninsula—finite and bounded in its volume or reach—but instead as a kind of sunlight, flickeringly unmappable in its plays, yet often quickening and illuminating.”
“For some time it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, ‘What do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else?’ and then, vainly, ‘What does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?’”
Referring to Edward Thomas, the “guiding spirit” of his book, Macfarlane says:
“And the Icknield Way—with its uncertain history, its disputed routes and its debatable limits—becomes in Thomas’ hands a metaphor for the unknown domains that attend our beginnings, and our ends.”
Stretch your wings.
Span back, and forward, as far as the feathered tips will permit.
And take flight…