In the middle of a spongy, mossy forest high up in the mountains, where your sneaker is stuck deep in the mud and you are losing balance, the only thing you hear is deep, laboured breathing. Your unconditioned lungs are working hard to take in the air – dewy oxygen so pristine that your guide says you will live a long life with just one visit here but all you can think about now is if you are really able to get through the next step up. You look like a greedy child covered in chocolate cake when really it comes from the clumsy meanderings of a city dweller grasping desperately for drippy twines and crackly branches to hold onto for all the times you almost slip on that brown, fudgey ground.
And during these struggles, what is on your mind? How far away your body has deviated from nature – this broken relationship that has made your arms and limbs so unresponsive to soil and rocks and twigs and logs, that makes your ears so suspicious to mating cicadas, to laughing monkeys, to crunchy dead leaves, to the squishy squelches of uncivilised mud. And it’s only after several hours that some kind of adaptation occurs – you become a little more agile jumping from rock to rock, you don’t really care that your designer shoes have become totally encased in mud and you wipe your face with your grubby hands, your sweat mixing with the mould and dew and crushed bits of leaves. During a rest stop, you take a deep breath and suddenly, you feel that you can hear the pulse of this magical forest, so powerful and so alive.
And then of course, it’s at that very moment, you decide to take out your iPhone and snap some photographs.
(This is what happens when you decide to go on a mountain trail with antibiotics and assorted flu drugs.)