Faversham, 24 February 2014
I hope this finds you well.
This morning’s walk was full of vim and vigour. Up with the sun, with a light step. Ideas buzzing, looking forward to the day. Vitality.
Yesterday, however, was fuelled by the words ‘Keep Going’ in metronomic time with my steps.
I even just sat for a bit when the metronome got monotonous.
Grim. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and I have often wondered about sharing this kind of experience – mostly in the interest of honesty. It’s part of the experience of my walking and my life. There is, for me, something suspect about the perpetual unending positivity of the things we (I) share on social media – I know for a fact that I don’t have endless days of joy and gratefulness, nor do my friends or many of the other people I talk to, and I’m a very chatty person!
Yesterday, out in the real world of conversation, a friend asked me, simply – ‘How are you?’ So I told her. ‘I’ve had a really awful morning.’ We talked. What a joy this is! Rarely, when I answer this question in such a blunt fashion, the response is a blank look and I know to start chatting about the weather. But more often than not, I find empathy. I find that people are grateful for the chance to say how familiar what I feel is or might have been to them at one time. I find comfort, and sometimes, giving comfort in return is the remedy for my own discomfort.
Writing about having grim days is risky, however. I am not depressed, but I do have days in which vitality is distinctly lacking and that thankfully lift in a relatively short time. They are days in which getting out of bed is a chore and the light seems to have drained from everything. Days when I am sure that this me (lethargic, lazy, unlovable, angry) is the real me and that ‘nice’ Hope is a made up character in a story with my name on the cover. As Andrew Solomon says in his brilliant TED talk You think that the veil has been taken away, and I am certain that this negative self-perception is reality while my vitality is a well maintained fiction. Maybe it’s hormones, or my age, or my disposition (one friend maintains it’s an ‘arty’ thing, hmm? Discuss!) – I don’t know. I couldn’t decide if it was relevant to write about, or important enough, or whether it would be, frankly, a bit of a turn off. I know that walking has helped me personally to manage these days, but I was wary of setting out on a ‘Walking will help with everything’ crusade. And mostly, I have good days, so why bother?
Reading the transcript of Andrew Solomon’s brilliant and positive TED talk on depression this morning moved me to write though, because the description of depression is familiar to me, either because the feelings are familiar or I know someone who has felt them, or who are affected by a loved one, suffering. Having that short conversation yesterday, too, reminded me that comfort can be in the most unexpected places, and that keeping going is the best way to find a comfortable place. I think that’s worth sharing. That, and he mentioned drumming as a remedy for depression, and I can wholeheartedly endorse that!
It occurred to me yesterday, when my feet, my heart, and my mind felt heavy, that sometimes it’s not me that is keeping the habit of walking going, but the habit of walking that is keeping me going.
Write when you can!