In my last post I was wondering why I enjoy cycling uphill. Thank you for all your blog and Facebook thoughts about this – including all those kindly people concerned about my sanity!
I’ve been thinking more about it, not least after a recent ride in the wind and rain, when I ended up with numb feet, drenched right through to the skin – but feeling just great. It’s not about achievement or performance, I’ve realised. It’s about feeling alive. Being fully in the moment. In touch with my body and with the world around me. Engaging all my senses. It’s about immediate, direct, physical, sensuous reality. Undoubtable existence. It’s about now. Whatever happens later doesn’t matter. Maybe this is special for me because it is so different from what I do when I’m working. Work in the university, or in the surgery, involves brain stuff - intellect and emotion – but very little in the way of physical stuff. It resonates for me with Camus’s Sysiphus (who I posted about last year in Rolling Rocks), pushing his boulder up the mountain: ‘the struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.’
When else do I feel alive, in such an immediate, heart filling way?
Hill walking – perhaps not surprising as it’s a similar thing to cycling uphill. I have vivid and oddly enjoyable memories of climbing Snowdon with my friend Dave and (way back) getting stuck half way up Sca Fell Pike with my father, both in driving rain and howling gales.
Wild swimming – for me (but not for Sue!) a delightful, sensuous experience. Skinny dipping before dawn in the Pacific at Zipolite in Mexico; and in a secluded lake in Nigel’s Welsh woodland. Did you see Alice Roberts’ wonderful documentary about it on BBC recently?
Dancing to the late evening band at Campus
Digging over the vegetable patch in our back garden, with a small child in a back carrier snuffling around my left ear.
And of course, personal activities known only to Sue and me.
Like our well-being recipes, what makes us feel alive will vary a lot from one person to the next.
Mary says being in the middle of her second pregnancy is doing it for her - she feels at one with herself, the baby inside her and the world around her.