School: Mary Erskine School, Edinburgh
When I was little I lived by a mountain. It stood like a proud man, all purple and gold as the sun tip-toed up the sky. Every morning I would put on my fluffiest socks and tramp up and up, my boots squeaking on the dew-covered heather. Every now and then I would stop, not to reclaim my breath, but simply to be quiet and thoughtful. Once I had reached the summit, the whole world was mine to see. Looking out on that patchwork quilt, I imagined that it belonged atop the bed of a giant, and that if only I could fly, no amount of scolding would stop me from bouncing on that bed for ever.
Then I would lie down on the cold, twinkly ground and a shiver of cool delight would take prisoner of my humanity for two dangerous seconds before merging seamlessly into an hour of intensive contemplation. This is when I would really dream.
I speed across sheets of silky sea; I am the sun that sifts through the leaves, that little jewel of rain that sparkles; I can see and hear and taste and touch and smell the most unimaginable things. I can dream.
Walking in the hills often uncovers discrete little windows into which other worlds may be viewed, even if for a fraction of a second. I often found myself looking through these windows on my morning excursions, but what I have never really known is whether I am truly looking through a window or simply dreaming. Perhaps there is no distinction between the two.
As I neared the bottom of the hill something curious would happen. It sounded like this: “BOOOM!”
Suddenly my innocent thoughts would be stumped by a large concrete wall, and the time would come to keep my head from wandering anymore. There were specific questions with specific answers, people that were to be talked to “like this”, everything must be done “just so”. And then I would realise that the thing that made the boom, that nearly cracked my skull was … the ordinary.
Sadly, life does not purely consist of wandering in mind and body through the hills, nor is it one big springy quilt-covered mattress. What’s outside my head is so different from what’s inside, but how does that work if all I know is all I experience? No wonder the bottom of the hill made such a boom. There is a surprising amount to get used to after a pleasant morning walk.
But when your brain gets a little too crowded for comfort with “just so” things, there is still a hope left. All you have to do is take a quick trip up the mountain, lie down on the damp earth, close your eyes, and let one happy shiver take over you. Let it expand, and it will twist and twirl and elegantly blow all the “just so” thoughts away, then finally, hand in hand, off you shall skip to a blissful land, The Field of Dreams.