Literary Influence No. 5: The Old Ways

        I like books that teach me something, which is why I loved The Old Ways: A Journey On Foot by Robert Macfarlane.  This book taught me that walking can be so much more than just moving from one place to another.  The Old Ways helped me to understand the concept of walking as a means of thinking.  As it turns out, the idea isn’t new.  As Mcfarlane explains throughout the book, it’s an idea that has been with us for a very long time: we’ve only forgotten it.  Still, though, paths from the “Forgotten Realm” crisscross our landscapes, and our minds.

        While reading the book, it was hard not to picture myself hiking along old paths, or sailing along old water routes with Mcfarlane.  Exploring these places in my imagination via Macfarlane’s words, granted me a reprieve from the life of a modern commuter.  There’s definitely something freeing about traveling on foot that is hard to experience in planes, trains, and automobiles.

        When it comes to my writing, I always like to include an element of the past.  As I alluded to in my poem “The Journey Begins…”, without the past we have no map to guide us on our journey.  Indeed the past is an interesting place to explore.  That is, if you can reach it (without pesky perception getting in the way).  My current project doesn’t delve as deeply into the past as my next will.  For now, though, the recent past is all that matters.  There’s still plenty of time to explore the worlds of long, long ago….

The Journey Continues…

The sky was an ominous charcoal color and
Smoke filled my lungs, as I set out to climb
A rocky peak with close companions.

The eve of another journey was at hand.
So we had gathered one last time,
To share paths in a dusty land.

The ascent would be the crux
Of our history together;
Though, no one knew it at the time.

I was already searching for a new path,
So I walked slowly and lagged behind.
One by one, my companions left me.

Soon, only my younger brother remained.
He wanted to proceed, but was obligated to stay.
Eventually, even he disappeared into the smoky air.

My companions all reached the summit that day.
I, was the only one that did not.
It was not my mountain to climb.

Many years have passed since that day,
And we have all gone our separate ways.
Each searching for our own mountains to climb.

Looking back, I wish I had reached that rocky peak.
Mountain climbing is hard work,
And is not meant to be done alone.

by Cody McCullough

IMG_0525 (2)

Photo by Cody McCullough