“It is allowed to carry out physical activities, individually, within one’s own provincial territory”.
I have read, read again and pronounced (outside and inside myself) this sentence dozens of times in the last few days. Back from these months of confinement that have fueled any paranoid syndrome, including that of conspiracy, I read it carefully with the main purpose of identifying any shade, dark spots or side that could have presaged any other meaning or consequence.
Every conceptual or lexical analysis that I made led me to the same final result, quite unequivocally:
“I finally can go back to walking”.
These weeks have overturned and twisted every concept of freedom by redrawing the boundaries between what is allowed and what is not and they still did not leave me so calm. At least in my mind.
Even if the desire to escape has periodically reappeared showing all its strength, it had always to be submitted to the more rational and scrupulous part of me that had instead clearly understood how far my needs could go. Especially if compared to those of many others.
It was only when I found more concrete and reliable confirmations that I understood that the chains of this unusual and unprecedented isolation were finally loosening.
For whole days during the quarantine period I tried to draw in my head every possible itinerary that I would have liked to follow once out of home.
The desire to prepare the backpack, fasten the boots and go back to walking, however, took over. Impetuously, without warning.
So, a few days ago, the first thought when I woke up was not: “Where am I going?”. It did not have so much importance: a destination already explored or someplace still unknown, what difference does it make?
Among all, the thing I wanted the most was to go out, walk and get away from home without having to carefully count the steps and meters within which I should have stayed.
Few other times in the past I had to face the rigid gaze of the imposition. Never this way.
Living with something that I have never been able to accept by nature: no chance of making a decision between what I want or don’t want, just the only possibility of choosing what you can and what you cannot do. My desire for freedom, at that moment, went beyond any choice of possible itinerary.
Primarily it had to rediscover its own shape, the one I always attributed to it and which now seemed more faded due to the succession of tremendously necessary and, at the same time, highly alienating gestures.
One step after another, along the traces of a road in the middle of the woods or a trail that runs on a grassy ridge, I savoured the pleasure and the meaning of actions that had unexpectedly stopped and crystallized.
Walk towards the bright colors of the horizon for the first time without seeing the border or running without reason along the gentle folds of a lawn. Hiking and listening to the rhythm of my breathing and let the sobriety of the noises around take place inside my mind, replacing all of those sounds and words of this strange period.
It was like opening the tight knots that trap the rope in a fixed, defined shape.
The desire for freedom that we all have can take on different shapes, colors and moments. What it transmits, I believe, has the same emotional charge for each of us.
In the extraordinary nature of this period, I have developed a greater sense of respect for what makes me feel free.
And, from now on, I will do my best to stop considering it as obvious.