For the first time in probably three or four years, I feel like I’ve got some fight back in me.
I don’t think there was a singular event that caused the change (not even Trump getting elected!) but more a culmination of a multitude. The work-life balance, the relationship with my partner, the stresses of friends and work colleagues in their multifarious situations, family pressures and the want of grandchildren, and probably most significantly, the pressure I place upon myself. I’m an arse, what can I tell you?
I am my biggest advocate in the same way that any man is: born with an innate self-belief that given the time, tools and some luck, I can achieve anything. Where this originates I cannot even fathom, as it’s clearly utter bollocks! And yet men approach all new tasks in the same optimistic fashion, pondering that as it’s raw elements, how hard can it possibly be? There isn’t a scintilla of a brain-cell that chimes in with common sense as a man grabs a hammer-drill to sort out that aching tooth.
Being Your Own Worst Critic
Coincidentally, I am also my biggest critic. For the last few years, the optimistic knave gets shouted down, and the black devil jumps on my shoulder and whispers ruinous nothings into my ear. The spring in the step wavers, the shoulders lade. The mind starts devolving from the I can to the what if I cannot? The questioning, the second guessing, and the gradual wilting of hope and self-belief.
The vehicle being shipped in the last week and my housemates moving out at the end of December mean that I’ve had some solitude, and it has been utterly refreshing. The breathing space enables me to think again, to start questioning again, and start naked Tuesdays again. Perhaps it’s the body readying itself to travel once again (not the naked bit): the mind has to be alert; to question everything that its being told; to problem solve on the fly; to duck and weave to reach the prize; to have faith and believe in oneself.
Reaching for Calm
It dawned on me only recently that the escapism I felt whilst travelling – sitting atop a volcano; mounting a temple summit to welcome the new dawn – were exactly the same as that when trying to focus on mindfulness at home. Taking ten minutes to simply sit and reclaim the calm helps keep the voices away, although it doesn’t keep the travel bug away just yet.
After the last few hectic weeks, it's nice to relax . . . and then, exciting times are here again! Travel is knocking at my front door ready to whisk me to inevitable disaster and disappointment! May get some nice pics though.
As with most of my travels, especially the big ones, I need to do what bookworms do best: revise. Oh, and have no friends. But revise, too. Some may look at books or scour the internet or ask friends, I simple get maps of my destinations and start to feel what lays ahead. Then comes the books and the internet to get the finer points. I’ll work out distances, journey time, what is on the path, what is worth skittling off the path for, and then if I can allow an extra day here or there for something unknown and special, then abso-bloody-lutely.
Revising Doesn't Ruin It
This does in some way take away the surprise element and the feeling of getting lost in a country, and yet with my driving and navigation abilities that is pretty much inevitable! It’s just one of those accepted facts like there being no forks in my work cutlery draw or that very special museum piece you’ve lusted after for years being loaned to the country where you’ve just come from (am not forgetting that, Iran!). And yet if you don’t do your research, you can miss something magical. For me at least, knowing about the Sistine Chapel and seeing pictures of the Sistine Chapel is absolutely incomparable to actually being there. I can tell you all about making a snowball or kicking the crunching leaves on an autumnal day, but doing it is something else entirely.
Lonely Planet Books
As much as Lonely Planet gets some bad press on occasion, I find these guys and girls terrific – insightful with good amount of detail, with naturally always the bit you’re interested in being glossed over just to keep you wanting more! Also, if you buy one of their ebooks (and this is my HOT TIP of the day) you get access to a myriad of their maps which you can then print off and help plan your journey. How awesome is that?! The other side is that there will always be stuff you’ll miss. Always. But the world doesn’t end, and if you’re really enraptured, you will find a way back!
As my previous post will tell you, when I’m stressed I’m up early at four or five in the morning. The other day it was half three. Where previously I would pass this off as just needing less sleep and being a part-human part-cyborg amalgam, albeit one that was also a good part-bloody-tired, I understand now that it's pure stress.
Preparing for the Pan-American (antipodeanadventure.com) is entirely my own doing but now one much closer to realisation: I am only a week away from shipping my vehicle. I won’t complete everything, but it’s comforting, not stressful, to say that. Not every task must get done, but that takes some perspective, prioritisation and time. For any task I will set up a reasonable duration in my head. Cup of tea? 7 minutes – three to boil, four to brew. Making and eating lunch? 30 minutes. Making love? 2 minutes 35 seconds with the wind behind me. Sometimes my girlfriend barely has time to get the stopwatch.
For planning I try to look at the sunny day scenario and then treble it: usually, in project world at least, you allocate 3 times more time than you think you’ll need if you’re unsure of the task. Here is a prime example when fitting in some new car seat belts. Sweet Jesus . . . anyway, here goes, please bear with me, there is a point I swear it!
Celebrate The Small Wins
Now, am not saying that every job I undertake is exactly like that, but they are all exactly like that every time for every single bloody thing that ever needs touching. Bolts impossible to undo, then they’ll sheer, then the tool you use to extract them will break. This tells me about my own resilience though, as well as that of the bolt.
I am finding I can do things once again and for me that’s one of the key things in getting back resilience: do small things, build yourself up. Like training for a marathon, it doesn’t happen by whacking out a 26 miler just before you’ve knocked back a full-English heart-attack breakfast, it takes time. Be kind to yourself during the falls, celebrate the small wins however you know best.
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