Island’s Pathways

Back in my youth days I used to study in England, Portsmouth to be precise, and in mid autumn I found myself with very low motivation to study and even lower concentration to follow classes; you know that feeling when you are dragging your feet when on the way to uni and sitting down in class the professor’s voice is somewhat in a dim background amidst hundreds of relevant and irrelevant thoughts. That was me, had only just turned 19 and yes was so ambitious, in a hurry and impatient to make an impact and a difference that time in university seemed to go so slow compared to my plans and ambitions.
So, one morning, out of the blue, decided to skip classes and instead take the ferry to the Isle of Wight, right in front of Portsmouth and though living there I never set foot on the island. My challenge was until evening to walk around the whole island. Under a quite typical windy day for the channel and just as typical grey sky over the golden colours of autumn, I sat on the ferry, wind on my face and hair, until the green fields and red cottages of the island started to become closer and closer and before I knew it I set foot on that island which I saw everyday when walking to class. Turn right? Turn left? What is the difference was going to walk around anyways and instinctively went left.
It did feel good to be out of the classroom , theories and boredom of those flat tones explaining the same things over and over to generations of students. It really felt good, and free. There was a truly lovely pathway passing small cliffs and cute houses surrounded by trees, and a classic element of those lands is strong wind, then sunshine, the wind and rain, then drizzle and sunshine again repeatedly many times per day.
Until at a certain point I noticed that the houses became fewer replaced by trees growing more wildly on the one side and on the other rocky beaches and cliff formations, which appealed to me as a call for adventure. Determined I stepped out of the path, slipped a couple of times but made it ! there I was on the beach with sharp stones, slippery from bright green moss and algae, and a constellation of tiny crabs moving out of the way. All started feeling better, a sense of being a daredevil and the need to focus on creating my own path, away from that comfortable and far too easy trail. True I was going slower but I was on my way, a way which belonged to me and me alone. The sharp rockets started to become bigger making the hike slower and more dangerous, by now had already a cliff on the left, to return to the path would have to go all the way back, then could only go ahead. The rocks were dangerously lingering over a stormy sea with fairly high waves, in between each rock only icy water and mud, at some point as high as my knee, and I went forward until I slipped a few times, almost fell into the sea, and had my clothes soaking wet and completely coloured with dark mud. One more step, just one more, from atop that rock will be able to see that the way will get easier, climbed the rock and the answer was no, the large stones would merge and become fewer as all merged into a taller cliff and ocean water and that’s it. I sat down, desperate, freezing cold, wet and angry, it was late afternoon and soon would be evening, I’d better walk all the way back and no way I will make it on time for the ferry and had to find a b&b where to spend the night. Tried to speed up to reach the trail, but I was so tired and the wind kept on spitting cold raindrops on my face as I tried to look down and sternly walk ahead. As if that was not enough, for who is familiar with those shore is well aware of the size and amount of tides, I could see the trail not too far as I walked in the water up to my thighs. Heavily climbed out of the fast rising waters and just on time set foot on the trail, walking back to the village to find lodging for the night. It was so comfortable to walk on the straight road, my feet felt like flying, even cold and damp started to feel better, and suddenly I realised and understood; we often try our best to be unique and make our own way regardless of all the perils and challenges, while sometimes it is just enough to follow the path of those already travelled the same way, and to honour their experience and sacrifices by walking their steps that exist today, because they left them for us.
No I did not manage to walk all around the island, but I gained a lot more than what I expected and was ready to return to university the next days and to learn from my professors.

Published by Lorenzo Nava

Consultant, Trainer and Coach, on participatory learning processes, experiential learning dynamics, non formal education and NLP certified practitioner

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