Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wandering Star

"Born under a wandering star", "gypsy blood in the veins", "she has itchy feet", these are just some of the maxims that attached themselves, justifiably, to my lifestyle when young. for 5 years i lived on my wits and a thumb hitching around the UK living wherever i landed for a while then moving on.    there is a certain, indefinable  dawn light that sparks within me the need to explore the next place. it's a physical and visceral response that engages all the senses and demands instant gratification.   it was easy to succumb when my universe could fit in a backpack ready for an early morning motorway hike and many times people would wake to find the jeni had vanished during the night.   alien abduction theories abound because thoughtless hippies failed to leave a goodbye note when following their muse.
When marriage and children called time on travelling the lure of the west wind was quenched by regular holidays in little villages and pretty towns.  we would find caravans in farmyards, broken down cottages lit by gas lamps, half derelict chalets with lambs in the garden and giant spiders in the eaves.  my boys drove tractors, teased kittens deep within a barn filled to the roof with hay bales, flew hawks, climbed mountains, pumped water for a week at a caravan with no amenities, descended into the darkness of old mines and were among the first to sail through the magnificent Enniskillin Marble Arch Caves.   an estate car replaced the rucksack but the sense of freedom with the road under the wheels was equally fulfilling and adventures found us at every slip road.
Disability decided to come knocking too soon and i was, unfortunately, at home and receiving visitors that day. the wings were clipped, travelling days done, call of the wild stifled, the eagle had landed and wouldn't be lifting off ever again, and do you know, to my immense surprise, it wasn't so bad.  the walls didn't slowly close in and smother me, the itching didn't turn into incurable MRSA of the toes, the stars continued their circuit uninterrupted, the gypsy blood kept on pumping and i discovered that the most unexplored of territories doesn't exist out there it exists in the unfathomable, unbounded, cosmic depths of the imagination and can be retrieved at will.   while i was busy doing stuff, going places, discovering the new there wasn't time or necessity to train the mind to turn inwards and travel the road of visualisation.   all those years and i hadn't known that those with the most locked in bodies could be the freest in spirit and imagination.   
Through photographs and internet searches i have accompanied my family on holidays around the world without enduring budget airlines, excessive temperatures, towns teeming with tourists.   via YouTube and iplayer there have been vicarious visits to some of the earth's most inaccessible extremes, off limits to the casual tourist. walks in the Siberian permafrost, views of  lava pouring out of Iceland's volcanoes, tears wept over the dying coral of The Great Barrier Reef.  some of the world's most imaginative writers have introduced me to alternate universes, flung me at the speed of light to the stars of unknown solar systems, accompanied me on road and rail journeys to exotic locations. all without leaving the comfort of my home and accessible on a whim at any time of the day or night.   

so.... when you come back from your holidays this year with a sim card full of photos don't feel you have to hide them from your housebound friends and family, you might find they would be delighted to accompany you on your adventures.   add plenty of pics that include familiar faces if you are sharing with the elderly, especially if there are grandchildren in the mix.  print some out so you can leave them with granny and granddad to be shown off to visitors.   oh.... and remember, you might find a smartphone adequate but elderly eyes don't cope so well with a small screen.   borrow a tablet if you don't have one and show granny how to swipe, it's wonderful to see the eyes light up as your memories become theirs.