“Shabby yet chic, curious, and carelessly un-PC whilst always being diplomatically forthright.”
After formal education, I roamed Europe. The plains and forests: the ice-flows and lava-flows: the great cities and village squares – Paris, Rome, Berlin, Florence, Barcelona, Prague, and more and more . . . Monte Carlo and bust. In Amsterdam, smugglers attempted eye contact in the dark. The blade was quick and sharp, but I broke his jaw, nose and eye socket as recompense.
In ’75, on the spur of a moment, I discovered an almond valley in North Africa which opened to the Sahara. There I watched inscrutable two-toned camels stare at women dancing the Zarraf, hidden behind dunes. In ’77 I spent six months in the desert. I drank tea with Imazighen, tended goats, fed camels, and came to enjoy a diet of barley served with a puddle of melted goat’s fat. Chief Bouadrho taught me to cherish only those things absolutely necessary to live. “Anything more is crap you have to carry,” he said (loosely translated).
I sailed the Mediterranean; docked in Corsica, Sardinia, the Aegean islands, and Çanakkale. I tracked the voyages of Aeneas, but too many times I traded the deepening love of my Dido for casual dalliances and peccadilloes. In Florence, she boarded a train. I never saw her again.
In Mexico, I climbed Quetzalcoatl and Castillo Tulum and touched the faces of many gods. In Coyoacán I learned, “The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.“ Leon Trotsky
In Borneo, I spat flies into red-yellow mud. On the Kianggeh River, I watched a girl catch water snakes to play with.
Lost on the Scottish borders, I sought healing in ice-needle rain. At Rosslyn Chapel, I conversed with Freemasons, quizzed Knights Templars and began a simple devotion to the Noahide Laws which pollinate my thoughts to this day.
Older and wiser, I sowed my seeds in the South West of England and watched my children grow strong and beautiful. But stealthily a debilitating mist enveloped me. My dreams suffered genocide and like many before me, I was seduced by the baubles the world of commerce promised. I chose to live an easy though unfamiliar ambition, playing other people’s games, only gradually coming to realise I was entombed in a mausoleum of corporate conceit.
One winter morning, before it was too late, a beautiful woman woke me and said she had chosen me to be with her forevermore. So, I combined my children with hers, made a family, and settled on Exmoor. And here I found peace.
For ten years I split logs for the farmhouse fires; walked the fields and moors, nodded to the granite oak, gathered sloe berries, chewed the cud of long-lost debates, and wondered at the argument of crows flying homewards to their night-time roost. Some days I rode my motorcycle, swooping and diving along the Atlantic coast, a quarter tonne of Milwaukee muscle between my thighs and the arms of my beloved around my waist.
Then one day, too early in life, surgeons discovered my loving heart was overwrought by the pressures of living. I died twice and was sick for a very long time.
These days, I pace back and forth, treading a path a million miles long, my hands painting the air with passion for spoken words, magic and wild abandonment to the elements.
Sometimes I prowl in midnight solitude, communing with stars and the dust that swims between them. Brooding the riddle of man’s inhumanity and making 100-year plans for our salvation, worrying there may not be enough time.
The love of my life soothes me.
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© Rod McRiven 2020