I awoke at 5am today for a visit the most regal area of my house.
As I sat reading the morning news in the resplendent calm of the throne room I couldn’t help but notice that I could hear birdsong and that the sun was coming up behind me. Although I wasn’t initially planning to go for a walk until a little later in the day this suddenly seemed like a great time to get started.
I quickly concluded my daily head of state activities, put on my jogging bottoms, made a flask of coffee and headed to the car carrying a new CD that’s full of catchy tunes. I compiled it in iTunes over the last week or so and I think I’ve made all of the tracks hang together rather nicely.
The disc isn’t just music though – it has a purpose.
I’ve created it to mark my last days at work – and I’ve been trying to listen to it as much as I can so that the thoughts and feelings associated with the event become forever linked (in a good way) with the music.
Years ago I noticed that I had stopped calling my tapes or playlists things like ‘Dave’s great tunes’ and instead started to title them with the date they were created. This isn’t because I’m anally retentive and strive for order (quite the opposite in fact) but because when I listen to certain songs I’m immediately transported back to a moment in time, place or journey.
When I started college back in 1990 I was listening relentlessly to ‘The Pet Shop Boys – Behaviour’ and ‘Erasure – Wild!’ (still two of my all time favourite albums). I can’t hear tracks from either of these without being instantly pulled back to the bus journey I used to have into Solihull every morning – and as I get older these have become treasured memories.
So – while the music I listen to from back then conjures images of the surroundings and my feelings, the date of an album’s release contextualises the images it evokes, providing me with a sense of time.
In a way these days I’m using these dated playlists to time travel – as I’m sure lots of people do.
Oddly you’d think it was on my walks that I’d listen to them but I’ve found that since I’ve been disconnected from the world for so long, part of the pleasure of propelling myself from A to B is nature’s own soundtrack. Without the noise of the trees, songs from the birds and the splashing of boat oars as they pass it all seems oddly lacking.
For this reason I leave my headphones at home.
This morning although I was still humming the playlist while I walked the silence of the park was truly lovely. At dawn it was absolutely deserted – and the sun, rising just behind me pushed the length of my shadow waaaaay into the distance as I walked.
I found myself intently watching the captivating and warm orange light that was gradually climbing up everything around me. The trees and the grass were sparkling, and the dew was slowly turning to mist as the sun warmed the world.
I didn’t go for a walk yesterday (other than to the Slimming World meeting) in order to give my plantar fasciitis a rest. While I’ve loved the walking this week I’ve not enjoyed the tendon pain that happens after I sit for a while, and sometimes when I move.
It was a good call. The lower temperature this morning and a day off had an unexpected benefit. I was able to do my entire first lap WITHOUT A BENCH and just a few standing stops for a 30 odd seconds. The second lap was a bit harder however, and my legs (particularly calves and glutes) noticed that I’d not rested as much as usual.
I’ve not become superman overnight it seems. But who cares – I’d done it.
The pain was instead a good excuse to sit by the river on my favourite bench to watch a heron, who until I stood up was letting me stay unusually close for about five minutes.
Sunday morning six months ago would have been seen me hung over and probably lying in bed until midday, at which point I’d get up and most likely eat crap whilst playing video games obsessively until it was late enough for my conscience to allow me to open more wine and repeat the process.
I really hated myself at the time.
Now, six months on, the last lap had proved that I can finally again walk a (flat) mile and a quarter without sitting and without being in pain. This means I no longer needed to feel afraid of getting stranded close to home.
Furthermore soon I won’t have to continually stress about where I’m going if I’ve never been there before. I can just go.
This is a HUGE milestone for me psychologically, and it means in time I’ll finally be able to graduate to other environments without benches. When this eventually happens (there’s no rush) I’ll be able to walk into Warwick or Leamington like I used to and I’m so happy about that I can taste it.
I was so pleased in fact that I barely had to argue with myself at all when I finished the second circuit and then embarked upon my THIRD LAP.
Yep. That’s no typo. Overall it took me an hour and 45 mins with some serious bench rest on the last leg but I did it that too – three laps.
This may have been a bridge too far for it to be a daily thing at the moment though as it came with a cost. Afterwards I felt utterly exhausted, had the beginnings of several blisters on both feet and my legs were trembling badly when I reached the car, which I had to hold on to for a while before getting in.
When I finally felt I could drive home, I completely zonked out upon arrival – face planting my pillow and not waking again for two hours, regardless of having had two Nespresso shots barely an hour prior to coming home.
Now I’m writing this – still listening to my playlist on repeat – and I’m thinking about the walk, the mist on the river, the sounds of the birds and squirrels and how good I felt.
Neither the pains in my calves or the burning warmth on the soles of my slightly blistered feet matter one bit.
I think Internet that when I listen to this CD again a few years from now I will look back and think of scary upheaval and great change – but I hope that those memories will also be interwoven with POSITIVE images, of growing self esteem and self worth. Hopefully I will remember that these have been won by the same willpower that I had previously convinced myself I no longer possessed.
If I’m in a darker period of my life maybe it will enable me again to recall who I was at this moment and how I wanted to be infinitely better than I am, and what I did to make that happen.