A Pilgrim's Progress

Hubert Cecil shares some reflections from his walk across France in aid of cancer research and great Ormond Street Hospital.

We all flow in the river of life and are as one in the water.

Individualism of any kind is neutralised by the grand unity of collective being.

Good and evil counterbalance one another as all opposites necessarily do.

Nothing is individually absurd nor wonderful, all is both remarkable and unremarkable.

The following prose for these reasons demands neither pity nor hilarity, neither wonder nor scorn.

The writer is but a witness, another player on the stage, another child in the cradle, another sage on the road.

The imperious rhyme of a river’s flow, a slope to the sea, a melting glacier.

As the river of which we are a part anonymises our quirks and equalises all trivia but our common humanity, it demands only one thing from us: to divine its reason and consequently our own.

Skin, hair, bones will perish Only our reason is immortal.

Since the road is an allegory for our own individual courses through the thickets and forests of life, revelations had on it are directly transferrable to courses we can take to live a purer and finer life, with fewer follies, irrelevances and less greed.

I seek not physical possessions. I seek my own truth and I seek the love of another.

All else I attain will be incidental but not unwelcome.

For now, however, I beckon the precipice.

I must lead myself back to the edges of my self to feel out my lost parameters.

I am a nucleus that has forgotten the trajectory of its electrons.

Asceticism and self-denial open spaces formerly filled with temporal concerns, and allow them to be filled by the elusive sense of self.

Self-reliance, self-trust and self-love will seep into the void left by all that is known.

Knife, pack, staff and compass will help me form my future reconstituted self.

I am much healed. I have come a long way since last summer. I was a wreck of a human being. Loot and detritus bobbed in the stagnant azure lagoons of my tepid identity.

I crave the road as a tonic. Each day elevates my consciousness, each kilometre lays another brick in the foundation of my future palace of consciousness. I am still lost, I do things but I know not why, I say things but I know not what for. Despondence, a lack of guiding light, only a guttering candle in the gloom.

Life, love, laughter, dreams, hopes, fears. All must find their righteous place and only then will my blood rest beneath my twitching skin, only then will I beslow to smile but smile well, methodical and true in thought, accurate and clear in speech.

The path lies ahead, shrouded but visible, in shadow with rare strokes of dappled, dancing, illuminated possibility.

Stride now, my path is indirect but I will walk every step and take no cuts of the route. I will feel every footfall of my sketched out destiny.


Hubert Cecil

Hubert read Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Manchester and is the Bystander photographer for Tatler.

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