It Ain’t What You Do, It’s What It Does To You

I have not bummed across America
with only a dollar to spare, one pair
of busted Levi’s and a bowie knife.
I have lived with thieves in Manchester.

I have not padded through the Taj Mahal,
barefoot, listening to the space between
each footfall picking up and putting down
its print against the marble floor. But I

skimmed flat stones across Black Moss on a day
so still I could hear each set of ripples
as they crossed. I felt each stone’s inertia
spend itself against the water; then sink.

I have not toyed with a parachute cord
while perched on the lip of a light-aircraft;
but I held the wobbly head of a boy
at the day centre, and stroked his fat hands.

And I guess that the tightness in the throat
and the tiny cascading sensation
somewhere inside us are both part of that
sense of something else. That feeling, I mean.

 – Simon Armitage

(So part of my brain has been taken up lately by the value of experiences. I’ve had to think about it when thinking about my experiences in Korea and my sudden bout of homesickness, manifesting as wanting to go back to SA – or, more accurately, to go back to Pretoria – and wondering about what makes an experience a valuable one. This summed it up for me.)

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