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The Great Escape


I'm not going to tell you where I am today. That will remain my little secret. I am willing to describe my surroundings for you though ...

My tent rests on a small patch of tough and wiry grass, the blades speckled white from salt spray. Immediately behind me rises a cliff about 20 metres high, very steep and impossible to climb. Off to my right stretches a gentle curve of sand. I haven't walked down that way yet this morning, so no footprints mar the smooth and unblemished surface. On my left is a jumble of boulders and stones, dark with moisture, and containing many cracks and fissures, out of which peek swarms of tiny crabs. And in front of me, stretching off into the distance until lost at the grey horizon ...

Well, I think that by now you know what lies in front of me. Yes, it's the sea. I have come here, to this special very private place that I have discovered, to spend some time by myself, sitting on the beach gazing out at the sea. The entrance to this little cove is blocked by the high tide, and it is thus always completely deserted. In this place, just a short train journey from my home, I am guaranteed privacy.

Sometimes, rather than this seacoast, it is to a hidden bend of the OOO River that I go, sometimes it is to a place I know nestled deep in a valley in the OOO Mountains, surrounded by birch and aspen trees. I have made myself a 'collection' of these private places, to which I escape any time that I feel the need. I take my backpack, inside which is a small tent, a sleeping bag, some food, and a little stove on which to cook it.

I have made it a rule never to take any books with me. The purpose of these trips is not to keep my mind busy, but to do exactly the reverse - to try and learn how to do nothing. And usually, I succeed. I completely 'waste my time'. Isn't that a terrible thing for somebody living in Japan to say! Sometimes as I sit there in one of my private places, I think about the 125,000,000 people running around this way and that all over these islands, and I want to remind them that it's OK to slow down for a few minutes ... Yes, I love the energy of the Japanese people, and I greatly respect their achievements, but I do wish that they found it a bit easier to relax sometimes. This is a very wide and spacious country; there are many peaceful places in which to unwind.

But there's no way that I'm going to tell you where my three private places are!