One step after the other, trusting the feeling under the foot, under the shoe. At least he’s not barefoot. One step after another, slowly to avoid mistakes. Head down and hands high to protect the face and the head. Theoretically the whole passage should maintain the same height, but it is always better not to trust too much reported accounts. One step after another always keeping balance firmly, because there’s the wall on the left, but on the right there is water and those waters are full of rats. Few seconds are enough be attacked.
It is necessary to walk slowly, to breathe quietly, to maintain attention and calm, because if a rat happens to come under your feet, you cannot jump or make noise.
Luckily his companion walks in front of him. He cannot see him and he does not hear him, but he knows he is there. They trained a lot in silent walking, exercising concentration and slowing down the breath not to make the slightest sound. When the body is silent, you can hear any noise around and immediately understand whether to stop. After having mastered their body and learned to keep their mind’s attention, they added closed eyes and tactile perception.
If you practice with your eyes closed, the environment around is no more important. When you sharpen your touch, you can grasp the closeness of things even without seeing them.
It is an absurd undertaking, he thinks. To choose the other group would have been better, maybe. They planned an escape perhaps even more desperate, more coarse in some ways, but who knows, maybe more effective. He chose to be with the monk, as he was called in the cell. The monk had proposed him an intelligent and meticulous plan, for which he needed a great psycho-physical preparation. I’m in, he eventually answered. And he agreed to train under his guidance.
Four months have passed and there they are now, in the dark, under the ground. No sound, except a subtle noise of presence, or at least this is what he’s convinced to hear. The path in the dark will last long enough to test confidence and fortitude. The monk was clear: you cannot leave room for fear or doubt. Hesitations hold back and undermine intention, putting the entire plan at risk. No questions then and let your thoughts flow away. Anyway at this point it makes no sense to ask anything.
He keeps walking. With his eyes closed he thinks he is repeating the exercises and so he calms the anxiety of escape. Concentration is on movement only, the monk told him a thousand times. Don’t think of anything else.
No matter where you are, it doesn’t matter who you are, only what you do is important and how much you are aware of it.
He concentrates. One step after another and the movement becomes more fluid. Thoughts and emotions have less and less grip. He goes on. After resting on the ground, the foot rises immediately again, he feels the body unbalance for a fraction of a second, until the opposite foot reaches the ground. One step after another is all there is and everything that is there fills the mind.
Something is getting clearer. The monk was right. Not a day less, until he was ready, there was no other way. In these cases you do not try, you just do it. Who knows how the monk understood he was ready. He realizes it only now, now that fear does not catch him, now that concentration becomes something incredibly pleasant. A feeling of freedom grows inside him through the fluidity of movement.
The escape, now that it is in progress, is no longer something to be sought. The purpose is lost in being. That underground could be infinite. It doesn’t matter anymore. He is free already.