In deep contemplation over life, the Id and the world in general on the walk today. I am towards the end of a week’s leave and was always planning on walking a couple of days near the end of the week, when the weather forecast has been for drier and slightly warmer days. Not that I am unable to get out on cold and wet days, as the last few weeks have demonstrated, but it is just more pleasant when one doesn’t have to hog around gloves, woolly hat and an emergency rain jacket. No need for any of those now, and it was nice to get back down to three layers, with the top layer being a relatively thin hoodie on a day where temperatures were at last in double figures Celsius.
Much of the walk was lightly paced, but with a couple of short speed walks. I felt a bit preoccupied and found myself wondering about my life, particularly my own emotions and psyche, how I form my opinions on things and stuff like that. I have had a much lighter social media presence recently since I cannot bear getting into conflict, especially on the keyboard where so much can be misinterpreted. I almost never get involved in any political debate or discussion (but am continually amazed how many do – even when they have not a clue what they’re talking about!), partly because opinions are so often painted so absolutely entrenched black or white. It’s not just politics either; pretty much any topic of discussion now leads to a clear positional dichotomy.
I find that really challenging. I find it especially difficult to take one side or the other as absolute and everything to me is a shade of grey, perhaps because I like to think I can see both sides of every story , though I would sometimes like to be more decisive. Unless it is a choice between ‘obviously good’ and ‘obviously bad’, I have come to the point of preferring not to get involved. Even then, it can be a journey. Take the example of a student dissertation some (about 20) years ago, where I was a second marker. The (politics) student had chosen the topic (unbeknown to their supervisor) of the fallout from World War II, and had ended the dissertation with the sentence: (paraphrasing) “…..but was Hitler really such a bad guy?” It goes without saying that I didn’t agree with the opinions of the student, and the first marker argued that we should just fail him outright. But, looking at this in a balanced way, the student had taken an array of evidence, from a range of sources, and set out the arguments – however, the undeniable criticism was the quality and bias of some of the sources, and the relative weight that the student had given to them. I didn’t mark on his opinions, but on the process and the quality of research…..and yes, it did fail.
As I recalled that, I contrasted that with the way I sometimes feel about myself. I don’t know why I self-critique so differently to how I do with things for which I am not so personally responsible, I have no idea. Very little is any shade of grey. With work, I am either absolutely buzzing with positivity, or extremely down on myself. I have been in the same job for almost 10 years now, a very good job, mostly enjoyable, and one which is very well suited to me – someone actually called me “Mr SDC” recently and another said that the Office would fall apart if I ever left! I have had realistic opportunities to go for promotion but I have always seen the worst in myself and not taken them forward – even though, in the cold light of day, I know I could probably do some of those jobs if I could just convince myself.
On a different level, in my early twenties I can immodestly say that I was a pretty good dart player when I had my head right, in fact I could often stay on the board for an hour or more against very decent players if I got a run going. In my head, at times I was brilliant and could beat anyone, and at other times I was hopeless and could lose to a beginner. When it came to proper matches, no-one could be absolutely sure which side of me would actually turn up! Certainly there were some great games and some terrible ones too, and apparently no effect of how good my opponent was. I could have done with having a balanced view of myself, knowing that I was pretty good and able to beat most players at that level, rather than the ‘all or nothing’ opinion of myself. Even with my walking, I once did get very down on myself when I could only manage about 13 miles on a Sunday when I was preparing for an event. Again, I should have realised that things aren’t supposed to always be perfect and there are many who would be delighted to be able to walk that distance.
Much later, at more than a slight tangent, I was musing too that over my working life, I have tended to attract older women as good friends and confidants, as someone who is easy-going but perhaps seen as a bit vulnerable, troubled and ‘motherable’. I have otherwise no idea why that is but I have had it in every job I have ever had, though not so much at the moment. Perhaps there are becoming gradually fewer people in work who are older!
As you can see, my mind was all over the place and this blog – and not just this post – is becoming less and less within its initial remit and the walking aspect is sometimes incidental. Perhaps today I have been somewhat self-indulgent and thinking too hard about things about which I shouldn’t think too hard. With the likelihood of another walk Friday or Saturday, I was not aiming for as high as normal, and it ended up as 18 miles. It struck me that ‘normal’ is now 20 miles rather than the 15 it used to be. Feeling fit and healthy and very capable of longer distances if I needed. That much longer to muse over everything and then pour it out on this blog……….