Yesterday I went for a walk in The Black Mountains with my good friend Dave Snowden. All walks provide an opportunity for thinking but when the weather is as bad as it was yesterday, with high gusting wind and driving rain that meant we could barely hear each other, you batten down the hatches, pull the drawstring on your hood tight, and basically stare at your feet as you plod your way up the hill.
Apart from an occasional glance to see where you are, and if you are lucky the clouds lift for a moment and allow you to experience a bit of a view, you are left with nothing to do but observe your own thoughts for a couple of hours.
Those thoughts can vary wildly from: “This is awful. My legs hurt. It’s cold. It’s wet. Why am I doing this? I’m getting too old. We should have stayed at home.” To the next moment thinking: “This is a fantastic adventure. I feel stronger than I expected. It’s great to be in nature experiencing the harshness of the environment. I should do this more often.” These two very different sets of thoughts alternate most of the way up, and for most of the walk.
In fact they do this all of the way through our lives. Moment to moment we flip from seeing the world one way, and then the next moment seeing it totally differently. One moment: “Everything is all right, I’m successful and happy. I’m in the right place at the right time” and then moments later: “I’m a failure, I can’t do this. Why did I bother? The people around me are idiots. I wish there was somewhere else.”
But for all my thinking, the mountain was still there, my body was still there, the weather was still there, movement was still happening.
Everything else was in my head. It was all made up. It wasn’t real.
This is also true of life. Most of it is made up. Most of it isn’t real!
3 thoughts on “Alone with our thoughts”
Is it a privilege to have those sort of thoughts? Does this change the perspective of ‘Most of it isn’t real?’
Aren’t “those sort of thoughts” the only sort of thoughts any of us have in any circumstances? Not having thoughts at all might be a privilege…
It’s a paradox – many of the hard things we do – such as this kind of walk in that kind of weather – can be awful in the moment – I am thinking of a canoe trip that went wrong – BUT they are also very satisfying – so if we avoid such trials, we miss out on this deep sense of accomplishment
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