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Outward Bound Forever

By Shahab Mossavat – 11th April 2014

The morning arrives all too soon, and I need to pack. I can’t believe how much there is to do.O

I go down to the office, and I call the hospital in Carlisle. Craig is not going to be discharged. So, now we need to pack up his gear and work out what to do with it.

OBack in my room, I dress in my waterproofs for what will be our last activity. I start packing with as much haste as I can, but lose track of time. A knock at my door brings me out of my reverie. It is Uisdean, who tells me Arkless are about to depart. I dash out behind him, and we go straight down to the lake, where our rowing boat awaits. Being the master of hyperbole, I feel like a viking on a long boat, and am happy when I get a seat at stroke. We are a hapless bunch to start with, but little-by-little we discover a rhythm and begin to move quite elegantly through the water. We stop in the middle of the lake.

I along with all members of Arkless are carrying two stones in our pockets. One we have been told we will keep and one we will be disposing of, by casting it away into Ullswater. Predicting there will be a metaphoric aspect to this exercise, I have chosen my rocks with care. Uisdean tells us that the rock we are throwing away is what we are hoping to leave behind, but the one we keep should represent what we are taking away with us. My turn comes last, and I present the group with a jagged edged piece of slate. I tell them, that this represents my sharp-tongued comments that sometimes have the ability to hurt people, and I want to be rid of that. I show them my other stone – a very ordinary looking piece of igneous rock. But, it is special; very special. It is a rock that has been shattered, presenting a smooth aspect on the part of the outside that remains, and a craggy rough surface from what lay within. For me this rock represents the dual aspect of life – the rough and the smooth – and the acceptance of them as inevitably tied together and therefore needing to be embraced simultaneously.

Reaching the other side of the lake, and with the rowing boat secured to its mooring, we are given a ride back in the speedboat, and far from being sombre, everyone feels delight in the realisation that an important journey is about to reach its successful conclusion.

Uisdean helps me to pack Craig’s equipment, and Alex arranges for it to be sent to the hospital in Carlisle. I feel awful about leaving Craig behind, but I just don’t know what possible good I could do by staying back. Since I am not next of kin, the hospital won’t tell me anything anyway, and I am hoping he’ll be out within the next day or two.

Gathering in the briefing room we enjoy a slide show of the many photographs taken over the week. I thank all the staff for their many, many acts of kindness and courtesy, and feel very emotional as I look at my certificate.

After final farewells, Phoenix’s coach arrives, and I ask if I can ride with them up to Pooley Bridge (about four miles away). There I am picked up by the wonderful Uisdean, a true friend to those with an adventurous spirit, who drops me off at Penrith railway station.

I feel like I have stumbled upon an alien landscape. After a week of giving up on my mobile phone, and even my watch, I know it won’t take me long to become acclimatised to them once again. What a pity that is.

PS – I am happy to report that Craig was discharged from hospital on Saturday and was picked up by his wife. He is at home now, where he is recovering.

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