The Great Outdoors
I spend so much of my time glued to a screen in one way or another. Either a computer, a smart phone, a large screen television or inside the womb dark cinema. I should get out more. And I try. And I love it when I do.
My perfect day would be spent walking in the mountains in the morning, maybe go for a swim in the afternoon, or sit and read a book in the garden and then a trip to the cinema in the evening. That would be great.
A few years ago I made a concerted effort to do more walking. I live in a place surrounded by some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe, the Dolomites are about an hour away in the car, Monte Grappa is even closer. But if I turn left when I leave my house, from the gate at the bottom of the garden, I can walk up out of the village and up a mountain which is almost 1000 meters (3280 ft) high. Ben Nevis is only 300 meters higher and a far longer drive. I regularly walk part way up the mountain, and more occasionally get to the summit, although as often happens with mountains, there turn out to be there are actually several summits.
That's what makes mountain walking amazing, the way it changes your perspective very literally. Suddenly the village becomes a map of the village, the course of the river is visible, other mountains appear behind the mountains as you achieve an altitude that allows you to peak. The mountain that you're climbing often disassembles as you explore it. Bits you thought were part of it turn out to be quite separate. The sound changes as well. The noise of the village, the busy main road and the industrial zone follows you as you climb the mountain for the first hour, but once you get past a certain ridge, the noise vanishes and you are away. As you near the top, the sun burns brighter, the wind is stronger, the air is fresher. On a good day you can see Venice.
It's moments like these, away from the pallid fun of screens, the Asperger's like obsession with film trivia and cross references, up there above it all that I can finally escape my own head. I stand on the summit at one with nature and think to myself:
'This is just like the end of Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992).'
In fact, I've been having these thoughts all the way up. The bit with the long grass (Thin Red Line), the path that goes through the trees (Fellowship of the Ring, I always say 'Get orf the road!' as a tribute), the craggy bit (The Deer Hunter). I can't see nature except through movies. I can't see anything without thinking of books and film. It is pointless even trying. It's self-deluding, stupidly self-denying. This is what I am. If I ever became one with nature (and got rid of all that other stuff) it simply wouldn't be me.
As Captain Kirk says in Star Trek V, 'I need my pain'.
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John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.