The Fell Walkers’ Guide To Eternity
Chapter Five: Waking Dreams — A Fragment
I think I understand most of it now.
One of the ironies I face is that it was death that gave me the life I craved; spending all my time on the fells watching nature, feeling part of it.
Life. How I loved the living. The universe was but a support system for it and out of the uncountable dry and dead worlds, here, here was life. Sometimes I could sense every living thing around me, from the people and animals to the straining of the grass and bracken, the mosses clinging on, the flow of the water on and under the ground, worming its way around the bedrock. Sometimes I felt it all and I could begin to understand how it all fitted together,billions of connections and interactions between all creation, spinning, moving. There were moments when I could feel the whole universe breathing.
I may be here for an eternity in these ever changing fells. Once I accepted this I felt easier in myself, but the biggest change was time. Previously it had whirled around me, now I began to move with it through the past, back to the present and all stops in between.
Time has been my greatest teacher. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. I watched the world on fire, choking in the thin, sulphurous atmosphere as the volcanoes blasted millions of tons of new rock into the sky, white hot lava flowing like the great rivers.
I have seen the new mountains fold into giant glittering towers. I watched as the ice ages ebbed and flowed, the glaciers formed and expanded, grinding the mountains down, carving out the features we know, then melt away.
How I wish you were with me when I witnessed the first humans roaming and hunting in our valleys, it brought tears to my billion year old eyes. I helped them as much as I could, driving animals towards their crude spears. Millennia later, I saw a blinding flash of lightning hit Pike O’Stickle, splitting the side of the crag, I showed the Neolithic people nearby the exposed band of rock which they understood was special and they began making stone axes, sharp flint knives. I watched as they began to build stone homes.
Legions of miserable Romans came, seeing real rain for the first time; that made me smile a little cruelly, for it’s a long distance in all kinds of ways from the Mediterranean to the bleakness of Cumbria’s fells.
I look around and understand the harmonies of life and time that made this beautiful land, how memory and history provide so many layers of meaning, how people have brought this land to life with their stories, their lives, their love.
I have as many memories as there are raindrops.
But the future remains unknown. Time takes me back and forward as it wishes, but not into the undiscovered country of the future. This may be a blessing, because in all my travels, whatever the time, I’ve noticed things are changing really quickly now, rain, temperature, all the seasons are different, like a pattern is being lost to the forces of chaos It takes a long time to notice the small changes, the slight increase of random, violent events and how normal cycles become abnormal ones. I’ve also seen the slow darkening of the skies, how the stars all twinkle because of dust particles in the atmosphere. A couple of brief centuries ago, this was rare and unusual. Oh I wish I could have shown you the stars long ago, they were so beautiful and alive you’d understand why our ancestors worshiped them.
How I got here, who or what I am no longer has any interest for me. But after wandering on the fells and through the ages I know that I will be here in this ever changing beauty for eternity.
It just won’t be long enough.