I Wish I Was Still Outward Bound

people running in an unpaved pathway between bare trees

Lessons In Life I Should Have Learned

Unearthly early he woke us,

not long after midsummer sunrise.

I was already awake.

It was not home.

I could not sleep.

Trundling clatter-foot

through hard boarded hallways,

the little man led us out into the rising mist,

along crunchable gravel walkways

and into a green feast of forest and fields.

We ran and ran and ran and ran,

miles and miles it seemed,

soon hot and sweaty and icky

in that sticky morning sun

until we came to the slow flowing river

where we all dived in

but did not swim.

The cold stole your breath

but cooled you quick.

He ran us back,

dripping and slippery,

panting and gasping,

through sentinel trees

and the scent of pine

and squirrels and rabbits

and butterflies and birds

and the silence of our minds.

I hated it,

the breathlessness,

the being away from home,

the living with strangers,

the food, the bad beds, the cold halls

and the competitions.

The little man was called Eric.

He came dead off a mountain,

trying to get everything

out of just one life.

Now, a hundred years on,

older but no wiser,

I still dream of that time

and I realise

how much I loved it.

The Outward Bound Trust

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