“When you are in a car, beautiful places are a moment; when you stop the car, they are a cluster of moments. When you walk, beautiful places are an eternity carved into the soul.”
I remember exactly where I was when I wrote that.
I was walking through a backroad in Croatia, heading for the five-kilometre stretch of coastline that was sketched out for Bosnia in a relatively recent peace deal, on pilgrimage with my son (who was mid-way through an epic journey, by foot, from Canterbury to Jerusalem – 7000kms, 16 countries – like I said, epic).
The backroad was blocked to Westerners. That would be us. Only workers with the appropriate paperwork were permitted safe passage through the border. I was all set to turn around and go the long way round to Bosnia’s little stretch of coastline, but my son held his ground. He was, after all, only half way to Jerusalem and an extra hundred kilometres was not in his playbook. Me? I was walking anyway. It didn’t matter where. Besides, I wasn’t up for arguing with authorities in countries with relatively recent peace deals.
My son held his ground and with the help of a woman with good English and a phone we discovered that the locals, pissed at being blocked on a road that had been theirs for millennia, had martialled their tractors and carved a new road up the mountain and down the other side.
And so we did what pilgrims do best – we walked on. It was late afternoon. The mountain was ahead of us, the road flat, surrounded by autumn fields and shimmering waterways lined with reeds and stone houses and the occasional ancient canoe tied to an equally ancient jetty. As we met the mountain road, the dying light lit the stones beneath our feet bright white. And then the moon rose high above the treeline, swollen and full, and lit the fields and the waterways below us with shimmering blues and golds and between the last rays of the sun the silver rays of the moon the whole world bloomed the colour of roses. The walk was steep. The road hard. My legs ached. My shoulders screamed blue murder at the 20kgs on my back. And the world around me bloomed the colour of roses.
Walking and writing. Capturing a heart bursting with the wild moment on a scrap of paper scrunched in my pocket, over and over the words bubbling out in little bursts. Without the walk, there was no writing a world the colour of roses. Without the writing, there would be wonder . . . bereft of the writer’s challenge: finding the words that express something that’s already been said ten thousand thousand thousand times.
Walking and writing. Together, they are sublime.
Written by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.
Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road and Walk and Write are dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.