Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A life of simple pleasures.

A life of simple pleasures.

Imagine a life where you have only the things that you really need. A life where luxuries are not an option and simple things are all that you can have. You have the clothes on your back and food in your stomach, fresh water to drink and safe accommodation, shelter from the elements. More than 80% of the earth's population don't even have this level of provision. They would consider the above list a desirable luxury.

Are you imagining it yet?

I can already sense each and every one of you cringing and squirming from the thoughts of not having your comforting things to hand. I include myself here too, I am likewise struggling to accommodate thoughts of a life where my things are taken away or indisposed to me at my will.
What would it really feel like to not have any material things that serve you? Especially if you are lucky enough to have become used to having them around and available to you whenever you wanted to use them. Think what it might be like to not have the discretion to have any of the things that you have set your life up to include. Like me I'm sure you would feel this to be an uncomfortable even unnecessary kind of suffering.
Who in their right mind would give all of this up? Which one of us would go as far as letting it all go, to free ourselves of 'stuff', material objects and experience a life of sustenance based upon less clutter? Whom amongst us could see the value of going through the challenge of letting it all go, to discover a world much simpler and easier to facilitate. And finally what kind of a person would do this all willingly, let alone concede to it if it happened upon them by fate or the forces of nature or economic disaster?
Well.... there have been many over the past centuries, since the modern eras of 'having,' collecting material things became popular and fashionable.
Oh... and the person writing this article that you are reading....!!!

Initially, due to some of the fateful reasons suggested above, but much more recently by completely open and free choice, I have begun an experiment that has taken me to various places on the planet and through many new and unusual adaptive avenues of the larger ongoing project, Imagine.

It is very difficult to say exactly when the project began, but sufficed as to say, since a very good friend of mine, Samantha Rey, suggested I walk 'El Camino de Santiago', (a 600 mile pilgrimage across northern Spain in 2009) I have been determinedly choosing to be a new person. One who challenges the things I once held very passionate views about, with no real conviction as to the validity of those views. That journey took just over six weeks to complete, and has been the single most amazing kick start to the evolution of awareness of my entire life.

In 2010 I again set out to do a pilgrimage of sorts. I had two specific aims at that time. I successfully completed both. (Due to poor health a small part of that walk was not completed, some 75-80 km of an approximately 980km journey) Aim one was to walk from the very southern tip of Europe (Tarifa, Spain) along the roads and byways towards the most northerly point of Spain. (Estaca de Bares, north west coast) The other was to write a book whilst I traveled. The walk in the most part was following an old trade route across the Iberican peninsular, a Roman road called the Via de la Plata. This is also regarded as the second route of 'ElCamino de Santiago'. (The silver route) I walked for a period of three months (less breaks for an injury) arriving in November to the tail end of Hurricane Katrina, as it came east from North America and the tragedies it had caused there. My book in it's very rough handwritten format was completed three weeks later in a cafe/bar/restaurant in the fabled city of learning; Salamanca, central Spain. Incidentally the cafe/bar named oddly enough Don Quixote. (Cervantes, tale of another famous traveller, DonQuixote de la Mancha) The book is near to being ready for possible publishing, however I still need to find some helpful inspirations towards getting this out there to be read publicly.

Last year, on the 21st of June 2012. I began the latest walk under the newly formulated project title, Imagine,walk with a stranger make a new friend.

Imagine, being the umbrella of all my current aims and projects was my attempt to challenge Great Britain to show its true colours with regards how it treats strangers in our lands. I wanted to walk the whole of the United Kingdom and get an overall feel of what it is to be British and what the different part of it were like. Sadly, on the small budget that I had personally saved, I was only able to complete four months of walking. This despite many donations from several kind and generous people whom I met during the approximately 800 miles between Nottingham city centre and the Northern most point of the British isles. Hermaness on Unst, a small island in the cluster of the Shetlands. The journey and the experience it gave me have lived with me daily ever since. I walked with a backpack weighing around about 20 kilos, with tent and a few basic provisions, mostly clothes for the inclement climatic variations, some food and water. Save for a few brief lifts, I walked the entire distance on foot, for up to twelve hours a day. One particular crazy stage I walked was approximately 66 miles in 35 hours. Brora to John O' Groats. (Please see Youtube Video. Its very funny..) 


Once this part of my project came to a financial conclusion, I examined my options as to what I could subsequently do to continue with the wider aims of meeting people from all over the United Kingdom, and learning valuable things about our society and its many facets. I seriously did not want to be a beggar. I wanted the help offered to me, to be what it was when I had some actual provisions of my own, free and spontaneous. I did not want pity, nor any misplaced feelings of guilt to be the motivator for people. I have always been able to provide for myself and those I care for, despite periods of hardship. Maybe I could have thrown myself at the mercy of the great British public and continued without any funds, but I also felt as though many of my initial questions about Britain had already been answered constantly enough. People that do acts of kindness, especially to a stranger, do the most amazing and unexpected things. Everyone else, live within bubbles. Comfort zones that do not include strangers very easily, certainly not as easily and frequently as other more open cultures. It may seem like a judgement, but it is nothing more than my personal observations I am sharing with you. I saw people empathise and be compassionate and stretch themselves beyond my expectations (which I tried to hold very low) and have received such amazing kindnesses that helped in the main to keep my spirits up. Yet it was observable that many of these people were or had been likewise recipient of acts of random or other kindnesses themselves at some point during their lives. A man that had been homeless once, in Edinburgh offered me the use of a camper van to stay in whilst visiting that wonderful city during the 'Fringe Festival'. Together with his partner they fed and watered me and restored my faith in the goodness of human kind. (They were by no means the only people that stepped up to the plate and offered me help and support. See blog for all the accounts of whom and when.)
As this part of the walk came to a conclusion I happily knew that another opportunity would present itself. And a week or so later it did, in the form of an opportunity to see a side of life I had thus-far escaped in any serious sense. I became homeless and on the streets with very little money and nowhere to sleep.

Coming back from the Shetland islands I arrived in Aberdeen. I had managed to benefit from free ferry transport the whole journey, courtesy of Northlink Ferries and The John O' Groats Ferry.

I had been raising money for 5 charities too..! I had visited my brother and his family who were days away from emigrating to Australia and then my parents in the Midlands. My tent had a broken pole and my aim was to get to a place where there was employment of some description. I ended up by a set of synchronicities in Lincoln, a town I was unfamiliar with to any great degree. I had been living for the past four months from a backpack so was quite accustomed to the 'lightness' of my load. It was November, night-time and I had no shelter and precious little money.
Then the most amazing thing happened, which snowballed (almost literally) and I was catapulted into an adventure I will never forget. I found myself in a park, with homeless people, sharing the shelter of a poor windowless building, freezing half to death on a rickety old bench, but loving every last minute of my new found experience with reality. All too sadly a reality that many people are now facing, whether they had planned for it or not.

When I began this article, did you envisage this level of basics and simplicity? Could you cope with this reality? Are you keen to know how or if I survived this ordeal? 
Clearly I did not die, but would you like to know what my investigations are going to reveal about our society and the governance over it? Would you like an insight into what it would be like to be faced with homelessness and hunger on a daily basis?

Then, please subscribe to my blog and follow on as I continue with the story as it unfolds to the present day.

There is weather, hope, dashed hopes and kindness. There are tales of success, of failings and brushes with feelings of suicide. There is alcohol and drugs and fighting, smiles, laughter and tears, oh and food. There is lots of food...!

Thank you for reading, I sincerely look forward to your comments and participation in my ongoing projects under Imagine.

Please also see my website @ peacefulwarrior.eu

Love, Peace and Light.

Peaceful Warrior.

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