This was my pitch:
We will feast like kings and starve like ogres! Burn in the sun and shudder in the wind. One day is a dream of paradise, the next is a fork in the road to choose from.
This is, perhaps, not good sales copy. Who wants to burn, shudder, starve?
Ah, but my time on the road was entirely joyful. There were hard moments, it’s true, but that is travel’s coquetry. She pushes you away when she wants to pull you close. The kiss is inescapable, but you must struggle for it and wait.
When at last she touches your shoulder, it thrills.
The Blood is Mandatory
Every adventure is this way. The dancing of the soul is a guarantee, the bad times its prelude and adagio. No symphony can rise on just one or the other. The blood, as they say, is mandatory.
Thus, from the mud the mountains look loftier. Once near the peak, the mud is long behind you; every thorn becomes a badge, an award, a memory. At the same time, the smallest pleasures stand in stark outline. A slow cup of coffee, a cafe terrace, stretching in wet grass.
Sensual pleasures hum through the soul, highlighted by previous discomfort.
And so discomfort and joy become bedfellows. Two swans who lead the way: one to navigate the sea-storm, one to preen in the sun. They make love in tall grass. They sing at evening.
This is the joy of the heroic faith.
Not reveling in pain, reveling in life itself. Life always entails pain, like the bitters in a well-made drink. The adventurer orders it double.
If you wish to join me, for two days, twenty or a year, we will see it together. You too will thrill in the complete harmony that life presents. We will laugh at snowstorms, hold each other in fever and, smiling, chase the dogs who steal our lunch.
When we relax in a rich man’s garden, we will look at each other across cups of tea and we will know: This is earth and blood.
Earth is all we’re given, blood is all we spend. Why pretend there’s anything else?