Mountains

So.  I felt terrible about not trying for Prince tickets, but then  I realised I am actually too lazy and can’t cope with disappointment – how negative is that?  Regardless, I had an angst-ridden night, awake at 4.45, reading my inability, my stasis, in the face of the Purple One as a sign of the fact that life is passing me by, that i will never be a Zelig character and I should punish myself by continuing on this track of apathy and self-denial.  Night thoughts are the worse, aren’t they?

I took evasive action in the morning.  I unfollowed all things Prince and we headed up to Hadrian’s Wall, and I’m pleased to say that a day’s walking blasted the rest of the dross out of my head.  The wall itself is about 6 foot wide and only about 2 foot high in some places, but it just …goes.  There’s nothing to interrupt and barely a house, let alone a village on either side of the wall for miles.  The landscape is light green and rolling and reminded me of frontier.  It felt a lot more optimistic than the landscape of the Lake District and clear, a seventies-postcard clear sky.  

Well, the hills roll and the wall hugs them like a zipper.  In fact I’m not entirely sure that Hadrian didn’t build it to segregate the Scots from England, but to suture us together?  Who knows? Anyway, I was ‘ calfy-hearted ‘ to use a mum phrase (meaning a bit wimpy) when we started out at Cawfield: I’m putting it down to my night mind-wrestles.  Still, Northumberland seems to be the land that Health and Safety forgot; there’s no reflective tape, handrails or cautionary signs.  I imagine they have a pretty active St Johns service or something, but if you fall on your ass, tough tits.

Billed as ‘moderate’ on the guide, it looked nothing but; a series of hills growing in magnitude unfurled before us, the only foothold provided by loose rocks, tufts of grass and boggy mud.  You had to hope the wind kept blowing you forwards on the ascent so that you didn’t fly off. Yes, I was shitting myself, but I wasn’t going to be a not-do this time.  I climbed (on all fours) each rock rollercoaster toute seule.  I hated the before and loved the during and after.  2 out of 3 is a win, right?

 

The best thing about walking for me is not the views, its the genuine need for focus that it lends me.  If I don’t pay attention and shut my brain off from its chatter, I’ll fall.  For once, I don;t have a theme tune in my head, I’m not worrying about someone’s coursework, I’m not thinking about dinner, or missing Prince.  I’m thinking about where to put each foot

 

It’s probably the closest to a child state that I’ll achieve, but with a feeling of risk that you can only get as an adult.  It’s being in the zone, I guess they call it and it feels wonderful.  It staunches the mindshit for ten minutes.  Respite!

I never see much wildlife on these trips (they know to hide).  This time, sitting on a rock chatting to my mother (about bad red wine, prosaically), I heard a thundering and turned to see four hunters on horseback. Dressed in navy, they rose over the brow of the hill like some mythic being drawn out of the ground, followed by three dogs, so alive to the scent hat their eyese were defocused. The four hunters were caricature posh: the women wore girlish pony tails and the men were crimson and well-fed with tiny little chins.

And they all completely ignored me.  Angus (one of the four) was an absolute dear and hopped off to undo the gate and they took off, over the lonely rolling hills, a gradient so steep that they soon disappeared out of view.

I didn’t open the fence for them in some shit small form of protest.  Hunting is bulllying isn’t it? However, i don’t imagine the chicken in my pie had a ball while it was alive, either.  I’m not particularly up to date with the laws on hunting, so it is entirely possible that they were following a scent.  But I’ve always thought the ritual of it, the dressing up in matching outfits like they’re in a band is faintly ridiculous.  Seeing it up close, it felt like part of the landscape.  And if it’s their way of cutting out the brain chatter for an afternoon (and no animal is battered in the process) why the hell not?

 

So, this post is called Mountains for easons of both pleasure and pain.  Pain: it’s a favourite Prince song (still hurting but getting better!) And Pleasure: I feel like I climbed a few this weekend.

Magic Eye Me

Please forgive me; I offer this post not because I think I am inherently more interesting than anyone else.  In fact, once I tell you how i discovered these things about myself, you will probably agree that I am inherently less interesting than you.  

That’s okay.  

I don’t wish to come across as someone who believes that they should be the focus of a column in a Celebrity magazine, called something like “20 questions!” “Get the lowdown!” “The skinny on …”  Good lord no.  I barely rate a mention in my workplace newsletter or all staff email list.

 

That too, is okay.  My brain contains dark workings, too febrile for the general public ……

 

Not really, it’s just that I’ve had a week off and I haven’t done much with it, which has been truly liberating.  I think back to the article in the Onion, headlined, “Area Man disappointed to find that he has failed to sort his life out in week off.” Or something like that, the point is that I work in a job that regularly grants me a week off (no I’m not a spy), so I’m all too aware of the “I will turn my life around” phenomenon that hits and I’m cautious of its effects.  Monday: get a new job. Tuesday: sort out will and revolutionise wardrobe and living space.  Wednesday: Get fit.  Thursday: See all absent friends and family.  Friday: Meditate the shit out of it. Saturday: Sort out finances. Sunday: Repeat Wednesday and Friday.  This is made more challenging if you have any add ons, like seeking a life partner, or the desire to learn to cook or horse ride, or master an instrument for example.

 

Allow me to take on the guise of a salty seadog, propped up at the end of a beer sodden bar, holding a few novices in the palm of my hand and pausing to suck on a cheroot before delivering my credo.  Beware the week off: it fulfills nothing but your well of disappointment and shame!  You will never sort your life out in a week off.  A more believable timetable runs like this: Monday: sleep in.  Feel bad about sleeping in.  Tuesday: Get up with good intentions. Wander into town at midday and feel bereft.  Wednesday: Try to do the things that you set out to do on Monday and Tuesday and realise that it will never happen.  Thursday: Netflix. Friday: Drown out impending doom feeling about work through any available vice.  Saturday: Look at what other people have done on their week off. Sunday: do laundry, cry, drink.

 

Sorry – that’s just how it is.  If you are a novice!  A better option is just to accept that not everything will be achieved and that this isn’t your one-shot at success, anyway.  This week, I’ve been to the gym, watched an entire series of House of Cards, done some writing, done some walking, failed to get Prince tickets.  That’s a good haul, all told.  Well done me.  Through hours of not doing very much I’ve also found out some previously incommunicable things about myself.

 

I am a Magic Eye.  The longer I stare, the weirder the fruit.  For example, through long bouts of not doing much, I now know that:

The default taste in my mouth is parmesan.

I can gauge how stressed I am by how many hair bands I can avail myself of.  The fewer I have, the more stressed I am,

Facially I do have a better side, but I can never remember which it is.

As child, I remember being so bored that I danced full out to the theme tune from Sons and Daughters.  In a room on my own.  Full out.

 

Don’t worry, I’m back at work next week

Creativity, good wishes and epiphanies

Noises Off: Experiment Day 4

Hello!  If you’ve just found me, you may need to read the last couple of posts to work out what I’m doing.  If you like intrigue and are short of time, let’s just say I’m audio-fasting (thanks Rhi x)

The power of the written word!  Something about contextualising my frustrations in print yesterday must have done me good, for I spent the rest of the evening with the attitude of a meditative android, calmly going about the business of making aubergine parmigiana and doing the  washing in an audio-free bubble, judiciously and easily avoiding eye contact with my mind (if that’s possible) for the duration.  No explanation as to why it was so easy to switch off after writing, but stranger things have happened.

However, day 4 arrives and i’m frustrated at not having attained a plateau of peace.  This morning, my internal radio accompanied me with a Doors medley and ‘Sometimes it Snows in April’ by Prince, both of which swelled in my brain and burst through my mouth in intermittent melody blurts, forcing me to randomly sing half lines here and there, unconnected to anything else that was going on.  How odd!  On the way to the train I pre-empted several conversations that I may or may not have today (update:  I didn’t have any of them) and mentally tried out a few lines from each one.  This may of course make me insane, but this morning I preferred to see my current state as akin to the island infested by rats that Agent Silva reminisces about in Skyfall.  Mentally, I’m letting my thoughts over-run me (and sometimes it does feel like a swarm of movement and unstoppable tessellations).  I’m observing this, waiting for the poison to be ministered and the hubbub to subdue.  All weaker thoughts will die out till we’re down to just two giant mega thoughts who must fight to the death.

But this is a pretty nasty metaphor and inaccurate.  I don’t wish to kill my brain-chatter, just find a way of disengaging.  Thoughts bring creativity, good wishes, epiphanies.  Frankly, thoughts are what I’m writing to you right now.  And, more practically, it’s impossible to kill them off.  Like creativity, good wishes and epiphanies, they are endless and spontaneous.  Just not always relevant or helpful.  So I’ll turn my attention to the present again.  These critters have had free rein for long enough.

Outside the sky is a block of grey white, and the trees all shades of green and in between.  It’s about to rain …

3 days to go.