The Pilgrimage - Day 3/5
17th July 2017 - Unsure if I slept good or not. The night passed too quickly for me to not have a got a good chunk of rest, but I remember being awake and restless most of the night. Either way, my eyes were opening and a small cup of tea was held in front of me gently. I sat up to drink and observed for a little while. Half the boys were bustling about and the other half were still asleep. I wasn't sure what time it was but there was such a stillness and softness in the air, it was very early. I had an uncomfortable sleep on the ground but at least I felt safe throughout the night, we had set up a cosy corner where all ten of us slept and I spooned a big bag of rice. Oh, the comfort of carbohydrates. I ask Brian if he slept well. He's sitting cross legged next to me, a small local cigarette in his hand which he then passes to Pzemek, our Polish friend. He nods and smiles then turns in response to one of the boys who says something in Sinhalese. They converse a few words and point to the animal track. Nonchalantly, he turns to me and says "a leopard came in the night". Ravindu was up on night watch, eyes and ears alert, torch in hand, apparently he had to 'shoo' it away. Glowing embers of our night fire still crackled in the dawn light.
Standing up to shake off my fear, Vidura ties a cloth around my head, which rather conveniently, holds my hair out of my face. Everyone is awake and packing up now. I throw on my backpack, grab my stick and we were off shortly after I woke. My shoes hung off my backpack today, and my bare feet kissed the earth with every step, it felt delicious as they squished through the warm mud and through dry grasslands; I felt good today. We passed through another camp of people who had taken rest the night before. There was a shrine filled with deer antlers, which had been picked up and collected along the way by pilgrims. We stopped here momentarily, lighting incense in silence and making our prayers, my intentions in my thoughts. Tea and bread were passed out. We walk for another hour or so through again, barren landscapes, however with more varieties of trees now. The boys point out these dug out holes in the ground... “Bears” they say. Yep, Sri Lanka has bears apparently.
We sit down by a watering hole for some breakfast? Lunch? My achy legs enjoy the rest. I’m trying to see how many pairs of crocodile eyes I can spot in the water, before my attention gets interrupted as I get handed a branch of tamarinds picked fresh from the tree. I think I counted seven pairs of eyes. The tamarinds are sour and delicious and my face squirms as I suck on the seed. After rice and curry, Tyler and I brush our teeth with a branch from the Nim tree we sit under. Its bitter but it works.
We walk for hours in a bit of a haze, nothing spoken but Haro Hara’s being shouted from front to back. Tyler's starting to get a few blisters but I think barefeet is great! It’s prickly and hostile, but its surprisingly okay. Sometimes we walk with others, but mostly we do our own thing; passing, acknowledging. The trail sometimes fades away into huge fields of nothingness, but somehow, the boys know the way.
Another resting spot in the afternoon. Another smoke. Another power nap. When I wake, I hear Tyler and Brian talking about happiness. My hands cupped under my face, I am turned away from them, facing into the wilderness. A warm breeze rustles the leaves and I feel comfortable and rested. I listen contently to their conversation about how permanent happiness is already within us all. “Greed, jealousy, sadness, all these negative things we are seeing or experiencing within ourselves, is merely an experience because we let it be.” Brian says. “We must CHOOSE to be positive and strive to open the heart to let these negative things go and allow the goodness to be received... Everything is working in perfect harmony, we just have to stop, listen and observe". I listen to them chat and I ponder on this thought. Do we chase our dreams, or wait patiently for them to come at the right time?
It was a beautiful evening. We didn’t quite make it to the river as planned, but we made it to the first sort of ‘structure’ I had seen in a while; a tent. Open on the sides with a Sri Lankan kitchen in the back, full of volunteers cooking rice and curry in huge pots. We lay our things down by a very old tree; make our way over to the tent as the sun sets and I’m glad the walking is done for the day, my legs ache. We had done over 20km again. We eat in silence with hungry bellies. The boys are appreciative not to cook tonight.
Returning to our ancient tree where many have sat before, we grab our things to bathe in the small river nearby, soaking up the good energy before nestling on our mats for the evening. I’m full from dinner and loving the vibes; sweet aroma fills the warm air as balm is rubbed into every ones legs after a long day of walking. As night falls we share cups of tea and talk of day to day living and how to connect on a deeper level. I think about waking up with the sun when my mind is pure and sharp, and how easy existence can be without the pressures and struggles of the modern world. Well, not easy, but definitely different. We speak of Hinduism, religion, God’s, the importance and resonation of Lord Buddha’s teachings, nature, souls, and all the good stuff.
My realisation in the importance of this walk becomes clearer and clearer as each day passes. I try to understand the meaning behind why people do it? Sacrificing our mental, spiritual and physical body, why? I believe it is to gain something, whatever that ‘something’ may be. Knowledge. Wisdom. To sacrifice time to think of your intentions, experience a closer connection with nature and spirituality. I guess the reasons are different for everyone, but that’s definitely what I was gaining from our little group. And it was resonating.
I opened up about my current journey with Ramatree and my past with Delos and tried to paint the picture as clearly as I could, although I struggle with condensing this story in one go; it’s a multiple conversation kind of topic, especially for those disconnected to sailing and social media. I delve into the roots of Ramatree, Brian listening leisurely but attentively, and I realise it’s the first time I have spoken of it since walking. And the more I talk about it, the more grounded I feel in it. And I realise the reason why I am here on this walk is to find more balance in my life, to get away from my computer and my constant TO DO list, and to get back to nature. I needed this and I knew that, that’s why I held the courage within me to do it. This has been the beginning of a reminder that will probably present itself to me for the rest of my life, which is to consciously make an effort in providing balance in my life. Time for work, and time for play. Time spent working in front of the computer and time spent getting lost in the wilderness. Time to work hard for my freedom and time to enjoy and experience my freedom. For here in nature I find rest and remembrance, clarity and comfort. Isn't it amazing that the knowledge of the whole tree is contained within the singularity of the seed. We are capable, but do we know it?