Walk of Life…

Winfields have launched ‘Walk & Talk‘ campaign to show how getting outdoors is one of the best antidotes for feeling down, overly stressed or generally anxious. For years, being outdoors has saved me more times than I can imagine.  Here’s my story…

The 21st century has brought accelerating technical innovation, increasing consumer demand and bred a voyeuristic web-based society.  Much of the western world lives online – a safe place to praise, preach and protest.  No more do we have to face people directly to get our point across.  We can publicly pronounce our love and hate, put our lives on display and shout ‘look at me’ from our fingertips.  It’s all too easy.  Convenience is destroying society and creating depression.  People demand life at the touch of a button, when waiting makes the experience special…

I’m lucky to have lived and worked in the outdoors for much of my life.  Open fields, moors and mountains have been my playground and I continue to spend my free time on them.  Some of this is for exercise, some to be at peace, but much of it has been to escape society, let off steam and slow down.

My childhood of the 1970’s and 1980’s seems an age ago, but not just in years – Life took time and it was time well spent.  You got no-where fast, planned using maps and books and appreciated every moment.  You thought about taking a photograph and shared the moment of opening the envelope when it returned from the developers.  So I sound nostalgic, but I didn’t need a computer, watch or app to tell me how far I had gone, how many calories I had burned or a profile of the route.  I’d enjoyed a good day on the hill and that’s what mattered.

Stress has existed since the dawn of time, but we view it differently now.  Thankfully for many, the days of finding work to put bread on the table are gone.  Days of disease and suffering are waning, we have clean water and roofs over our heads.  These are subjects worth getting stressed about.  Modern society is breeding a world where people freak out at the loss of WIFI, traffic jams and celebrity break ups.  These subjects are not worth a jot.  This is why I love the outdoors.  I switch off from the modern world and enter a place where my senses are surrounded by water, fresh air and natural colour.  Earlier this year I was out with a group on a beautifully snowy day, but some were more interested in an app on their phones than the beauty surrounding them. I found it sad that people are losing the ability to open their eyes to the world around them and breathe.  Breath in the air which is so vital to their existence.  To stare and not care, to empty their minds and throw away the strains of modern life.  The hillsides were created eons before the mobile phone was thought of, and they’ll still be there long after we’re gone.  They have inspired exploration and adventure for millennia and for some of us, they still do.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been diagnosed with clinical depression, but I have my bad days.  Don’t we all..?  Many mechanical lives demand mechanical repairs, so we pay councillors to listen to our ills and gyms to burn off energy and increase fitness.  All are measured, with tick boxes galore to provide results for graphs and charts.  What ever happened to wandering off into the hills for a day..?  It’s cheaper, more enjoyable and allows our bodies to work at their paces.  Take a look at people walking – few of them look unhappy.  Recently I was feeling down, so I walked through the fields and woods of my childhood.  A large dose of birdsong, spring flowers and fresh air did more than any medication possibly could.  I enjoy sitting in a field of meadow hay and listening to the sound of the wind whistling through it, smelling the damp air of bluebell filled woodlands and watching Kingfishers dart down the river banks.

I’ve decided to reduce my working hours and jobshare.  This will allow a wage to pay the bills, but also give me more time out.  I suffer with nerve pain in my right hand side which only seems to recover with rest.  I know money will be tight, but you can’t buy health and you can’t buy time.  Anyone who tells you that is a fool.

We were born of the land and we must never forget that.  We are living, breathing beings which need their senses stimulating and their minds emptying.  Unlike much of nature, we govern ourselves by time rather than weather, by demand rather than season and were killing ourselves.  No other animal worries about obesity, self inflected health damage or eats processed food.  Meer Kat’s don’t spend the weekend stuffing themselves with pizza watching box sets, because hey live in balance with their surroundings and understand them.  I fear that much of the worlds stress is due to loosing this bond.  We must fight to keep it…

Go and find nature, whether it be your local park, a farmer’s field or a mountain top.  Find silence from society, find disconnection from the digital and find yourself.  If you’re struggling with life demands, put them into perspective.  Are you really being chased for your life by a predator, or worried about the working week..?

One will kill you in an instant, but if you’re not careful, the other will grind you into the floor…

3 thoughts on “Walk of Life…”

  1. Another excellent article on putting things into perspective. Couldn’t agree more with all your comments – have just returned from an amazing trip to Joshua Tree and Oregon and the overwhelming pleasure was without doubt the wide open spaces, the variety of scenery, the different wildlife and walking at dawn. The climbing and shared comradeship with good friends was obviously a valuable addition but nothing can beat the serenity of being quiet and observing nature in all its glory. I briefly experienced the weird sensation of being without my “gizmos” when my phone battery died whilst on the long distance train and it made me realise how much I too rely on this to feel “connected” and made me caution myself on giving in to that. When I travelled in the States 25 years ago there were no mobile phones to rely on or Google searches to check out plans and information – whilst they do make things easier it doesn’t mean they add to the pleasure. Finding a phone booth to share my experience with loved ones had it’s own pleasure and sense of satisfaction. Thanks for sharing so eloquently on this important topic! Having said all that I love the technology that allows me to share in your musings!

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