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Sharing the Words From a Walking Dairy: My First Walk Alone in a Few Months (Missing Chris)

by James on January 26th, 2015

Amongst the bambooIts been a long time since I’ve been able to take enough time to write a post here. Last September my partner Jon and I adopted a beautifully lively little boy, so I’ve been a full time Dad since. In December my much loved friend and artistic collaborator Chris Seeley passed on, and the writing from this walk is informed by both things, lifted straight out of my book in a raw state, with no real editing.


My First Walk Alone in a Few Months

Tear blurred eyes as I open up my heart to the wind, sucking in cool air. Where is the space for me? This is it.

Where is Chris? In my mind’s memories, in that wind, in the cooling, rushing, lip-scraping dry air that picks me up and sets me standing straight again.

Such a simple thing to walk alone, to take the time and space to feel, to let go, to open up and be with the open wind-blown spaces of now, and here, here on this hard, beechnut cobbled, broken tarmac path. Here between these green stained coldly clanking galvanised kissing gates. Here without distraction or hiding place, stroked by sun and shadow from the half hidden yew tree.

“I want you back again!”

I want to share with you, be seen and laughed at by you, I want you to sniff Moshi, breathe her in, to value life alongside me, and awaken something special inside.

Guttural yelps and gulps interrupt me and my bodily calm, as the realisation of you gone returns, and smacks me in the throat.

What is this writing for? “Just do it,” you say, “it’s the doing that matters.”

Where have you gone? Can you be in this wind turned cold and strong on the side of my head? Can you be the tickled, stiff stalked bamboo, can I let go of looking and asking, and know you as mud, as stars? As the marks on this page?

But I want you here, to touch, to laugh and feel alive with, not as some mystical, transcendant experience, but the warm bodied, solidly grounded you.

This rusted, twisted, concertinaed wire, the soft grey-brown hat of the toadstool, chipped, pecked and bitten at. The pap! pap! of guns on the firing range, and the poo-bag with a gentle heft (that word again) swinging softly from my fingers.

Muddy S's

Half knelt-down in the corner of the wood, Moshi ever busy in the rustling leaves near by, I feel you here with me, you have changed me, yes you ARE here, but I want more of you, I ache.

A sourness hits my stomach, my throat, my eyes, a smarting wetness returns again. The breath is narrowed, the tightness returns as loss pushes the fullness and richness of life back to the edges.

“I miss you so much” I say, and rock in the wind. “I want you back. I want you back!”

It rises like a wave from groin to guts, pushing up through my body, pushing out air and moving on to constrict my throat and fill my eyes. “Oh!” An airy, breathy, exclamation of pain.

And the cherry-red veins of a half-turned leaf meets the red of this book, and I see you noticing, finding joy in the minutiae of life, and I feel you here again, comparing photos of crusty fence posts, of silhouetted tall trees, like the tubes and veins of lungs.

You ARE here in the way you held a mirror to me and told me I was needed, I was special, important, valued, loved, and I so hope – yes I did – I did the same for you.

“Oh God! Where have you gone?” I look around 360 degrees, and then up to the sky. “Tell me! Show me!” and the sun comes back out, and our shadows move, mine and Moshi’s, and I see them and smile, I share them with you as we would have done – notice, share, laugh and play, joy in the world, in life, in being.

We noticed together, got excited, valued the same spiky, crusty, mouldy, richly twisted things, the beauty in the discarded, the nature in the no-mans land. When I do that again now I feel you – the giant puffball laying like a forgotten football in the bamboo, the straggly branched lime tree, like an old hairy hag of the woods. And Moshi. You valued her and I loved you for that too.

And you’re here again, the twisted waves of pain leave in the wind and the sun lights this page, and we are together finding joy in this hidden beauty.

  1. Ann Powell permalink

    Your skin is alive ! Alive with the light of your soul. With love x.

  2. Beautiful, true and opening xx yes you are loved, seen, held as you surrender to the mystery of loss yet with some much given, gained and to love once more, again and again x
    Much love dear friend – let’s find time soon to walk in the woods, be inspired by life and talk xx

  3. Nicola Chapman permalink

    I was moved to read your powerful words James, thank you.
    It especially resonated with me after yesterday- when I too went for a walk by myself for the first time in so, so long, and for a few wonderful minutes, remembered how much fills the ‘silence’, how full and loud and surrounded by life – by ‘it’ I was, and that ‘it’ was me……..then I was calmer and clearer and in touch with myself again- my pain, my happiness……embodied…….

    • Wonderful, I’m glad you claimed that time for yourself Nic, great to hear from you xx

  4. Lovely, lovely. Chris would be saying, “Brilliant, James, brilliant”, loving the messiness of emotion, the discoveries that the writing offers up, the directness of it – writing as showing rather then telling. And you have rendered something of my feeling and process around Chris’ passing as well so as I read, I am opened again into this profound sorrow and the impossibility of her being gone…

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