Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sightseeing (08/08/05)
TITLE: Free Writing
By Val Clark
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I pick up my pen.
‘Imagine you are walking along a narrow pathway. Trees grow close to the pathway. You look up…’
I close my eyes. This is the part of Kim’s writing workshops I like best. Free Writing she calls it.
On the white board in bold blue marker are her three rules:
1. Turn off your inner critic.
2. Do not stop. Keep writing. Even if you repeat yourself or think you’re writing rubbish, keep writing.
3 Refer to rule one.
‘…the tops of the trees almost join overhead…’
I am there. Her voice recedes as my imagination takes over. I begin to write.
Autumn, I love autumns. I love the word autumn. I can almost taste it, crisp and tangy on my tongue with a light tannin aftertaste. I look up at the trees arching above. The light lowers itself in gentle pearlescent shafts; transforming the drooping, dying leaves. A slight breeze dislodges some and they drift down, blood red, crimson, saffron, luminous yellow. I watch them float to the ground and lay – a crispy, crunchy sacrifice below my boots.
This path is new to me. At least I think it is. I don’t remember walking it before. In fact I feel like I’m in a sort of a time warp. I don’t remember how I got here. But I’m here, and, I’m assured, not alone. So I’ll take this journey and see where it takes me.
Images drift comfortingly around me. I am laughing and throwing myself on a freshly raked pile of crinkly autumn leaves. I toss handfuls in the air and lay back and watch them fall around me; magnificent, gigantic, technicolor flakes landing on my face.
I follow the path as it bends gently to the left, opening up into a breathtaking valley. Above me a mountain hovers in cloud teased, snow crested brilliance.
The path is flat. I pause. Am I going up the mountain or am I going down?
In the valley a lake leaks into a river. The river slithers through grass – so green my jaw aches – and falls off the edge of the world.
There are no houses. No people. No fences. No hedges. It is pure, virginal, untouched and unhurt. It serves no purpose. It just is.
On the edge of the path there is a boulder. It’s flat topped and just the right size and shape to make a great seat. I settle into it and contemplate the valley.
Lately my life has felt like it’s been in a valley. It’s been deep and dark, but I have not been alone.
Maybe that’s why I came up the mountain? Perhaps I’m seeking a mountain top experience. Have I had it? Or missed it? Do I go up or down? I shift and see myself oddly reflected in the waters of the lake. Odd because I thought I was too high up.
I’m not sure what sort of reality I am in. A dream? A Vision? An alternate reality?
I am perfectly reflected in the lake, just as the mountain is. The perfect lake in the perfect valley. Wow. I’m in the middle of the sort of place I see on postcards. With love from Annette, wish you were here. And I’d like to be, but Annette or Andrew or Ashleigh probably wouldn’t really want me with them. But I am here and well, frankly, I want to know why.
Why have I walked this far up the mountain? Do I go up for the mountain top experience? I’d like to because I’ve been in the valley so long. I feel the smallest pull, but just how important is that, anyway? Where has my real growth happened? Do I go down? Actually, being in that valley wouldn’t be so bad. It’s lush and beautiful and there I am already; my image in the lake. Is that a promise?
Up or down?
‘Finish your sentence,’ Kim’s voice almost brings me to a halt – but not quite.
I think I’ll stay here. Here is exactly where I’m supposed to be, right now.
‘So how did you go? Would anybody like to comment?’
I cheat just a little bit and keep writing.
I understand, at last, that whatever choice I make is of little importance. Stay where I am? Climb up? Take the path down? It is who I take with me on the journey; that’s what matters.
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