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Cross Country 172: August 2016

Tuesday 12 July, 2016

Cross Country Issue 172 – August 2016

Looking for Shangri-La

We go to the mountains to lose ourselves, and then to find ourselves. It’s not a new idea, but it is a timeless one. We travel to do the same – we go there so we can come back, refreshed, reinvigorated, with new eyes on the same landscape, external or internal.

John Silvester’s trip to Bara Bangahal was the talk of the town in Bir last autumn. He and his band of merry men had left to fly off on an adventure into the mountains. Only he had got through, the others turning back because of low cloud.

I had seen John a few days earlier, moving along the street like a vulture on the ground, his body loping, his bones seeming to weigh him down. That is the real deal, I thought, as I watched him slip between cars and cows, unknown to the pilots with their heavy bags who were marching the other way. That’s a legend, I wanted to tell them, a proper flying legend, but of course I didn’t.

Reading and writing almost seem like arts from a slower time these days, when we have to parse digital information at lightspeed, deciding whether to let it in or not. John’s article this issue is a tribute to those original arts, it’s a tribute to him and to the places he loves. It’s old-school, and a pleasure to present it here.

Of course you don’t need to go over the back in the Himalaya to find your own piece of Shangri-La. You can do it on a Sunday, or on a summer’s evening on the hill behind your house, taking off into the air on your own private mini adventure. It’s amazing how quickly we can reach the wild places when going up.

We always return refreshed and revitalised. If we don’t, then we can sit and worry about it for hours, days, until the next time we take off and it all fades away.

It is the adventure, the idea that you can refresh, renew and grow simply by going up there, going somewhere, and coming down again, that is almost miraculous to me. It’s so simple and yet so not.

Enjoy this August issue – summer for us here. We’re off to go flying. See you up there!

Ed Ewing

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