mobile navigation
Blog - Richard Downes

In Breath We Walk

a stone with wood and metal inlays proclaiming welcocme to the Totnes - Dartington Access for All Path. One of the metal inlays is written in braille.

Stone monument and information board

Strange how a mood, personal or national, changes an intention. I had it in mind to write a celebratory piece on a path that runs between Dartington and Totnes, which proclaims itself an ‘access path for all’. It was to be a celebration of community.

There was nothing but goodness in the initial draft but Brexit and Trump lead in telecommunications and conversation and threats and worries have wormed themselves into the therapeutic piece I offer here. Still hopefully the photos retain an element of celebration.

We start with a deep breath for if the question is access then we almost always know the answer. Another deep breath c’est vous plait as we never say again in post brexit land. In. In, in we inhale. We fill the lungs and we exhale. And in we breathe again. Eyes closed now. Head bowed. Our chins resting upon our chests. We breathe again and our journey starts. Breaths are slow now. Deep and rhythmic.

Imagine a path, a path for your leaving. For you are leaving as we all here in this room are leaving. Leaving a space that once occupied our lives, our loves, our dreams, our hopes. So, we feel the need to breathe. Our breaths release us as we go beyond our homes, our institutions, taking steps and noting as we go, our strange new beginnings. This is the change you waited for. The change you yearned toward. See it. See it in your mind.

Wonder is it as beautiful as you thought it would be? If it is then breathe lightly. If not then remain breathing. We are on route. We are traveling. Your route, my route, our route. To our right, a wooded hill, to the left, a surprisingly wide babbling brook, leading back to the Babel we left behind. And we note with our breaths with every passing step, no lip, no rise, no dissent, no descent. Just smooth, straight sailing. The brook remains contrarian, going south, always wider than it should be. A gulf. Boats bob by, bobbing back behind our current path, bobbing badly, taking on water, sinking towards the town we’ve left beyond our bodies beyond our understanding.

And so it is here in this strangeness that we breathe and breathe again. We breathe in as the bird song in the tangled woods to our right is breathed out through the foreign beaks of immigrant warblers passing through our summer. Breathe in, relieved by the respect of the cyclists and the skateboarders, swishing past in wide arcs to our forward movements. Listen to the children, laughing, hiding, launching paper yachts with written notes and names. There you go. Bob away. Let it go, back behind. Leave and inhale.

Record the rate of weather warming, record the heights of summer. Sweat in the heat if you find it getting hotter. Perspire. But if you feel a chill wind rushing through the trees, then note the tremors and note the mock terror Indians, hand hewn in steel, flitting and flirting in the wind, chiming, clanging, ringing proclaimacists bells. All is recycled here. All news is old news. Nothing has stopped.

All is movement regulated by your breathing. And at the end of the path, note the weakness of any barrier, note the lack of argument, the cohesiveness of many who wore so many colours, whose clamour, whose discord subsided and open the doors into a well lit room where people speak of welcome – an arts space with art and work for sale. Breathe. Exhale, exhale, exhale and expire.

mock terror indians, hand hewn in steel

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Charles barraball
Charles barraball
3 years ago

Nice piece – reminds me of the Tarka Trail, and the trails to and from East Grinstead. Also of the importance of breathing deep, and of the benefits from my weekly yoga sessions.

3 years ago

Hi Charles.
So good to read a comment from you.
I hoped MCIL’ers would be following DAO.
Its good to see the evidence

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x