Thursday, 18 July 2013

Surfs Up

Evocative phrase that one up there in the title space. I’ve never surfed, however it is one of those fall off a board things that I can still have a go at, as opposed to skiing, snowboarding and especially skateboarding ... windsurfing’s out as well because of the lumbar strain.

From the two previous posts, it’s easy to see how you get caught up in the woe and ignore the good times. For instance while the last six weeks have been especially hectic at work and at temporary home, I’ve not said a word about going out cycling in the evenings, weekends away at friends, or that three weekends out of six we’ve been on the beach, swimming in the tepid sea (not warm, but definitely not cold) and during the heat wave we have been ditching our gear as soon as we get in after work and going straight down to the beach to swim. The fact that there’s none of the usual English reticence at getting in the water is due to the temperature and is; I theorise, a combination of fresh water outflow down the Thames that’s warmer than the sea, and the fact in the estuary the tide flows shallow across firm tidal mud flats and these act as a heat sink when exposed to the sun for a good few hours. These warm mud flats  then transfer their heat to the water as the tide comes in shallow at a walking pace ... however I may be talking bollocks ... you’d need to catch a high tide early morning when the waters come in across the mud in the dark to test the theory ... or ask one of the old folk at Leigh who swim early when the tide is right.

We’ve been cycling and walking in both east and westerly directions, juggling my brothers DIY jobs and going to the pub on a regular basis I actually feel fit for what seems like the first time in a long time. Being fit and active is a great mood booster and depression deterrent. Not being fit last year, and remembering it play heavily on my mind that “Oh fuck I’m out of shape, getting older, so getting fits going to be an absolutely FUCKING ENORMOUS mountain to climb this time”, is not a good place for the brain to be. I can see it through the lens of hindsight ... all I could see last year were mountains of one kind or another. There is a very good  argument that being a bit vain is no terrible thing, even and especially as you get older. 

It’s also worth mentioning with regard to travel, mode of travel direction of travel etc., that it’s good to vary your route habits even on regular journeys. Apparently there are only so many neural pathways and processors in the brain to deal with things like travel and navigation and which cheese is best, so when you vary your route you make new discoveries (even if you’ve travelled the path before but at a different time). This causes an emotional response akin to pleasure and activates the same receptors in the brain and releases endorphins. Just think about the saying “variety is the spice of life”, and suddenly the science fits the wives tales. And all that was required to prove the wisdom was a few million watt’s of electricity, thousands of hours of scientific research, and lots of Guinea Pigs willing to have their brains scanned, lifestyles and habits dissected, to understand the bio-mechanics of the “how and the why? of “variety is the spice of life.

After last years miserable weather that played well to our Damp Works nightmare and kept us indoors and “on task” (that’s a boardroom bollocks phrase if ever one was), but at the same time did nowt for our Cardiovascular fitness. This years weather is playing well to our absence of tasks, now the motor home is away being fitted out, and the back breaking work at my brothers is done (I may mention more about this later but to be fair it’s done as far as I can go, as of the day I started writing this post).

 An almost absolute absence of tasks after having lots of tasks, does leave one feeling bereft of tasks, this can cause anxiety. And as the saying goes (not strictly but close enough) anxiety leads to fear, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred and hatred leads to the dark side ....mmmmmmmm.

Fortunately in this regard I have an Amanda, and I’m sure I’ve said elsewhere “everyone needs and Amanda”, she is the Yang to my Yin, the light to my dark. Glass half full with room for some Vodka. Amanda’s the one that suggested the sea swims after work, I was reticent, afraid of the cold, of having to walk home in wet clothes, because someone nicked what we leave on the beach. I never used to be afraid of stuff. A little too much bravado has gotten me broken bones, torn ligaments, stitches, nearly drowned  ... more than my fair share of time on NHS waiting lists waiting to be mended. And suddenly I’m all “oooo it’s a bit late, it might be cold, there may be a shark, or a whole poo that’s still recognisable”. That’s depression and self doubt that do that to a person.
One of my greatest fears over the last eighteen months (and I mentioned this to my counsellor), is that the poison in my soul may infect Amanda, and then we would both be doomed. That sounds dramatic doesn’t it, but think about it: how many relationships fail, because one person is on a downward spiral and doesn’t get help? And the other half just gets dragged down in the eddies, and the only resolution in the end is to separate.

Once you’ve seen the benefits of counselling, and having your brain part rewired (you do the re-wiring, but you have to do it via the mirror of memory), you can genuinely start moving forward again with optimism. I’m done now, it’s still light my gear is ready for when I get in, the tide is high, it’s ten to eight and I think we are swimming in about twenty minutes.

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