On the modest parking lot where our small group stood waiting for our departure, little could be seen of the surroundings. We had been told all sorts of things of what was waiting for us, but not the whereabouts of where we had to go.
I sneaked a look around me. The others seemed so sure of themselves! They had backpacks, mountaineering boots and ingenious water bottles. I think they all had taken survival courses or something like that, for they all knew the technical terminology. They talked with the leaders as if they had already made a lot of these kinds of trips.
For me everything was new. I had only been listening, open mouthed as it were.
It all sounded as if I had been waiting my entire life for this. I was filled with questions, but I didn’t pose any. Yet they were answered, but not with directions. When I was asked if I wanted to go on a journey, I was surprised that I was accepted and at the same time I knew that nothing could have stopped me. All disadvantages, for clearly they were there, were clearly taken care of, too.
There was just no stopping it
I had for some time had a feeling of intense expectation, not knowing what I actually expected. I received a smile from an old man, with no apparent reason, and this made me feel that I was on the right track. Incomprehensible maybe, but undeniable. Then I met this tour group. A remarkable collection of people and each one so different… And though I was already middle aged, here I was a greenhorn. Oddly enough the confident ones were also much more casual. They skipped the introductory evening because of a game that they wanted to play. But no matter, they already knew so much about it. Hey, what’s happening now? Are the ones with the backpacks leaving us now or did it just look like that? Yes, that’s how it was. They turned back, but backing out could never be the way, because there was no going back.
The leaders came over to wish us a good trip. We all shook hands and then I was on my own. You might say that that was impossible, in the middle of a small group, and yet that is how it was. I only carried a compass, but didn’t know how it worked. Because I didn’t know where I was supposed to go to, I just started to walk. Which suited me well enough - the surroundings were magnificent and at regular intervals I met a fellow traveller, sometimes one whom I knew and sometimes one who had been on the path longer than I. All of us relied upon our own compass but these were probably all of a different make because there were no travellers that walked beside or behind me. Funnily though, it felt as if there were, but when I looked around I saw nobody.
I was so glad that I was on my way that I almost began to hop. Even though we had been warned, I didn’t notice any nasty obstacles. Sometimes I saw someone standing still, with a worried face, and I also met somebody who had lain himself down on the ground. I wanted to help him up, but that didn’t work so well so he said that he would manage by himself.
Of course it rained sometimes and it was often cold or hot, but generally speaking my journey went pretty smoothly. Then suddenly I came to a border. Not that I saw one, but I noticed it when I crossed it. Now everything was new and unknown to me. I therefore walked more carefully, at times doubting if I should go left or right. There came crevices in the rocks that I had to jump over, sometimes not without danger. There were parts that were very high that left me all done in, followed by scary steeply winding paths going downwards that were slippery from the rain.
Yet I never wished that I had stayed home ...
Home was here, at each moment.
Presently I stand before this enormous boulder, for weeks or months, I am not exactly sure. I have already tried all kinds of things. I have pushed, pulled, shoved, hacked, carved, assailed, scaled it and slid down the boulder again. No human being in sight and I cannot go one step further. I have gathered all my strength but it does not want to yield. I even cannot see what is behind beside it. Going back is impossible - I don’t even need to try it. I cannot remain here forever can I?
I am hungry and thirsty and that is why I would try anything, if I would just get rid of that boulder. But the more I try, the more tired I become and I definitely do not want to sleep. I have been assured that one must never fall asleep, for it is then very difficult to awaken. I sit down on a spur of the boulder and reflect on all the methods I have already used. And yet, there must be a way… Every now and then it seems as if just out of reach something useful pops into my head, but if I try to catch it, it is gone again.
The only thing that really draws my attention in these surroundings is a large species of bird that sits on top of the boulder. It has been there for quite a while now. It is a strange animal that looks askance at me. I am so lonely now that I have the tendency to have a chat with it, but that is crazy of course. Every now and then it flies upwards for a bit and then returns to the same spot. It would be nice if I could fly myself, I think. Then I would be able to fly over this thing. Could that bird be living behind that boulder?
Look, it flies up again, higher than before and I follow it with my eyes. Higher and higher it goes and it is wonderful to see how its slender wings contrast against the blue sky. A circle of light surrounds it and I realize that it flies exactly between the sun and me, straight towards the light.
I forget the boulder and let my heart fly with it, so lovely, light and free. No part of my trip can surpass this high flight and it looks as if the bird wears a crown of intense white light with jewels in all colours. It is crazy, but I feel myself coming closer and closer to it and pretty quickly I reach its back where I find a soft seat. We soar together brilliantly through the sky but suddenly my thoughts are with the journey. Should it go upwards?
The bird turns its head and I look into the eyes of an old acquaintance, but who? His voice is low and high and soft and clear at the same time: ‘First up and then down again, and then to work!’
And in high spirits we descend again to the point where I stood before. The boulder is still there but it is now transparent. I take a step and without any effort I walk through it.