(I tried to post this last night but was unable)
Everything is temporary: this is a thought I have had to keep close today or else I do not know if I would be able to push on. Sleep has not been a dear friend and my exhaustion has been building steadily and my nerves have begun to fray in many ways. After reaching Bapaume today, I crawled up a small hill and onto a green field near the center of the city (a park with metal bench frames, but nowhere to sit). I collapsed onto the ground and shrugged off my backpack so that I would not feel as burdened and right there I fell asleep– just for a moment. I had not felt so peaceful in such a long time, but even then the feeling was fleeting.
The place we had intended to stay the night at in Bapaume originally was closed until the 15th of August for renovation and so we had to look elsewhere. We went back towards the church, St. Nicholas, and along our way we bought some bread to ease our hunger. We were like savages eating that bread, a trend that has begun to develop. After sitting outside on the church steps without a proper nights rest or proper food, (bread and more bread) I remember when I got up and walked into the cavern of a church: It was completely empty and the ceilings reached up higher than I could bare to look. I felt that if I must sleep here I would be fine, I would be fine because all of this is temporary. The suffering that I am putting myself through (because it is a choice, and I do not know why I keep making this choice for myself everyday) is necessary and it is temporary.
When we were in Arras, after the events that led up to our arrival, I felt overwhelmed with intsense gratitude for everything. As Nic and I were eating a delicious meal at a vegan restaurant in the city of Arras we both were in a state of joy. Every comfort, every luxury that I am allowed– a warm shower, clean sheets, a pillow, etc –I do not take it foregranted as easily. I know that I cannot stop because this sense of gratitude is important and I have only been walking for about a week. It, my discomfort, is all temporary anyways (temporary)– there is an end in sight, and that end is a luxury in itself.
However, throughout our travels Nic and I both have this sense of humanity and civilization leaving us. We both have this feeling that we have been falling into savagery. We want to maintain some remnant of civilization for our morale, and we have been trying to figure out how to be a little bit more human whilst we are detached from daily life. Last night we camped out in a field after coming across a fellow pilgrim– a spry older French man– and in the morning he made himself some tea, packed up his campsite in a tidy fashion, lit himself a cigarrette and continued on his pilgrimage as if it was a morning stroll. He looked like a civilized man whilst we have been allowing our own habits of polite society slip away. After seeing him, we have decided to make more of an effort to be presentable, to make more of an effort to make tea for ourselves in the morning, to make more of an effort to not slip away so easily into decay.
Tomorrow we leave early for Peronne, and even if I have spent most of the day sleeping in a hotel (a luxury for us!), I still need more rest. It is all very temporary right now.
Please be well,