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Today's walkitcornwall quote

"My vicinity affords many good walks, and though I have walked almost every day for so many years, and sometimes for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them. An absoutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see. A single farm-house which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the king of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the three-score-years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you". - Henry David Thoreau

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 It was a great time for us in Cornwall with you. Every day I´m in thoughts of the coastal path way.

- Brigitte, Germany

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Passeggiate sul sentiero costiero della Cornovaglia

Localism

  localism01

 

Over the past three years I have reflected a lot on life. Many thoughts are possibly a result of my new life post-divorce and probably more to do with the present climate crisis and the ongoing pandemic. The overarching question has been “How can I attain happiness and achieve a life that is the most satisfying and in the knowledge that we all have a ripple effect through being interconnected with people and place?” With an ever growing certainty of the inevitable feedback loops that will lead to climate chaos and with a family who will suffer in the longer term it’s never been an easy question to answer.

 

The message above in the beautiful illustration (which is not mine to own but I share) is where I am personally now. It sums it up beautifully. The pandemic has shown that when we slow down we reduce the pace of life, rethink what is important and reimagine the quality of life we want. Those three “re” prefixes are a few examples of the ever increasing importance and usage of them but I will leave that for another blog.

 

One result is that I am rediscovering the local. If I am harsh on myself I could say that for many years in my job as a walking guide I’ve looked for the greener grass abroad, ignoring literally the landscape under my nose, which, after all,  I moved down from London to explore and enjoy nearly 20 years ago. Cornwall. 

 

Hands up those who have been told “Be wary of spreading yourself too thin” or “Be a master of one not a Jack-of-all-trades”. Overseas, I do leave the explaining of the complicated interleaving history and what I call the layers of meaning of where we walk to local experts but I do understand the rhetoric of those two bits of advice. So I rethought this strategy two years ago and last year reduced the walking trips abroad by 75%. The pandemic halted the final 25% and might possibly be the nail in the coffin for any future trips outside the UK.

 

So to the image above of Localism. It is the future, of that I am convinced. Yet it talks of creating beauty, of celebrating people, of day dreaming and learning which if you take as referring to the prevalent outpouring of equating the bigger, faster, flashier the better; or celebrity awe; or game show facts rather than wisdom; or money/technology buys you quick routes to happiness, then the words have been misconstrued. So is the image oversimplification? Life can be simple and it seems that there have been so many stories reflecting the self-discovery of this during shutdown. 5% want to go back to Business As Usual. So what have the 95% discovered? Simple pleasures. The Value of people often derided and therefore paid as non-essential. Food and its preparation. Many other things but maybe most importantly, the connection to the basics of life; education, water, human contact, heat and food. Did I mention the time to enjoy it all?

 

So I’m working my way through the list if I haven’t attained its principles already. We can talk about what value, beauty, community, sharing, work and learning are. And of course, love. That’s a discourse in itself.

 

Well I’ve planted seeds so that’s a start. Oh and I do already “walk there” as I’ve started from my front door and I’m discovering Cornwall like a new arrival. 

 

I’m getting there, wherever “there” is, but at least I know it’s local.