Collserola Park

Mike Zhai



A few meters above the trail, I find the perfect walking staff. A dead baby pine. One kick and it falls, knobby dragon head with body long and sinewy, rotten-away roots forming a second, rounder knob. It is heavy in my hands and I have to struggle with it down the steep slope. I can’t help smiling with delight as I lug it on my shoulder. In California these sticks used to appear to me everywhere when I went on hikes, and I had amassed a collection of them, some of which I kept at home and some I stashed in my car, so I could carry them around anywhere. Peeling off the bark, I see the familiar lines like hieroglyphs carved in the flesh. Surely a greeting from the local gods: 100% Catalunyan wood.


Once lost in the woods, there is no more Catalunya, no more Spain, no more United States of America. It’s all the same country. So, sitting on a stump in the shade by the trail, the view of a hill of pines in the distance mirrors its sister spot in Tilden Park. For a moment I forget where I am, and think about walking back to the parking lot with my latest find and driving with it back to my house. Then I realize I have no car and no house, and to get back to Barcelona, I’d have to get through the metro with this– phenomenon. What if people thought it was a weapon? What if I was stopped by the police? I’ll say I’m a sculptor, and the staff is for an art project. That’s good enough, since I don’t actually know what it’s for.


Keeping your own company all day, is pretty much the same as keeping anyone else’s. At times you are a precious friend, pointing out the subtle beauties around you, revealing the secrets of your heart. At times you are inspiring, at times amusing, at times terribly boring and long-winded. At times dull and impenetrable as ice – nothing gets through to you. At times you are absolutely hateful. I think – if this is how I get along with myself, how could things be different with anyone else?