If you happen to be one of the 5 people who read my blog you may have noticed it’s been quiet for last few months , since spring in fact ..
Last year the highlight of my mountain calendar was my summit of the Monch (Plan B after many other options fell away) with a truly amazing team of friends, before that had been a pretty full on 5 years of hills, climbing, mountaineering, Skiing (badly) and general outdoor chicanery that changed me as a person for ever – and for the better.
2 years ago this December we moved to a new house – our “forever home” we believe – and after some basic repairs and updates we decided this year to do some major work to transform the house into our home, for our lifestyle and to change and improve how we live day to day.
I won’t go into the build details as this isn’t a house blog but as we embarked on it early this year it became harder and harder for me to get time to get out on the hills, or even focus on training. My better half also began travelling far more for work (as did I) and as the activity around the build escalated, clearing rooms, moving furniture, organizing builders and trades and sourcing materials – outdoor time declined. My well-being mentally was going down as I fought myself and the clock to “get out” or to the gym or to the wall .. I felt I was declining in skill, going backwards , losing precious time on the mountains I’d never get back, missing out as friends progressed … yada yada yada – we’ve all seen it.. the young call it #FOMO – Fear of Missing Out, in my case its #LOGO – Lack of Getting Out .
Each week I felt time slipping like my life was being snatched a decade a ta time , not a day at a time, every Social media post of my friends and contacts out adventuring which one enthralled and inspired me now created jealousy, resentment and more self loathing – the pendulum was on the swing once again . All the while my wife was patiently working hard to create a home for us, focused on the bigger picture while I was lost in the wood that I couldn’t see for the tree’s. Each weekend of not getting out felt like another brick between me and a life that I needed, the stress and pent up nervous energy within me was rising, the darker , more insidious unhappiness creeping into the back of my brain. The build and our life in this house was at risk of being something I’d resent rather than relish.
Something had to give.
In an uncommonly clear moment, I don’t exactly remember when – I decided – “I’m not climbing this year.”
I flicked a switch I’d never been able to find before. The pendulum didn’t just stop – it evaporated.
Instead of feeling defeated and like I’d given up I suddenly felt free’d.
And boy did it feel good.
I “paused” my Twitter and Instagram accounts, I followed a stack of people on Facebook (i didn’t manage to give that up entirely) and i turned my whole focus to the house. Making the conscious decision to put myself back in control and choosing not to climb instantly put paid to the feeling of chasing that which I simply couldn’t catch.
It wasn’t the house stopping me climb anymore. I wasn’t climbing as I wanted to focus on home. Conscious decision.
With that small decision i was no longer fighting the tide, “losing time”, or resenting others. I was focused on something worthwhile, I was supporting the joint enterprise and I now knew I could easily flick this new found switch back on after the build. The weight was lifted, the unhappiness was popped like a balloon. Strangely with this new found clarity I also realised my core group of mountain mates were also for one reason or another on a form of hiatus, family, health or just other pursuits . And as I often compare my success or failure to others this undoubtedly helped me realise that life was life and we as mere working mortals with families cant climb every day .
Fast forward and its now October, the house is all done , we love it, its changed our way of living for the better (we are more connected to nature in various ways with it now) and I can now think about mountains again.
I’m back on Instagram (sorry) and loving seeing all the outdoor inspiration, back in the gym getting my body back in condition and just booked my European Outdoor Film Tour Tickets – a yearly pilgrimage that always delights. A lovely extra surprise was the arrival (synchronicity?) of the Magnetic Mountains kick-starter rewards – stunning photography prints from the maestro of Mountain photography Lukasz Warzecha, and a beautiful and emotive drawing of the Les Dru, North Face by Andy Kirkpatrick which will find a prime spot in the new home.
Most importantly I’ve got a Scottish hill day booked with my great buddy Fraser this week – getting out. No goals, no pressure – just get out and enjoy the mountains.
The switch will stay, I no doubt will need it at other times in my life, but its an easy one to flip now and I’m glad I found it.
Winter is coming, see you on the hill folks!