Last week I ended up in the middle of a hillside in the Lake District. By myself. In the rain. Cursing my stupidity.
‘Why couldn’t you just stick to the plan?’
‘Why couldn’t you just do what we agreed?’
‘What’s wrong with you, how have we ended up here? (arrgh….)’
Yes, I’m not above a little self-admonishment. Or a little bit of shouting in the middle of nowhere.
So how DID I end up here?
Simply because I stopped listening to my own inner guidance, I believed someone else knew better than me.
I was looking after a remote Youth Hostel in the Lakes. It was drizzling, the mist was down to almost ground level, and it wasn’t exactly the warmest day of the year, but I love the Lakes! The lure to go out was great.
‘I’ll just go a little way down the track’ I thought to myself.
I walked a little way. And a little way further. And further. Before I knew there was only a choice of going up into the Fells or going back the way I had come.
‘Just a little way up.’ I said to myself.
And a little bit further.
Before I knew it the rain was coming down hard, my legs were hurting and I was now a fair way up.
And happy. This reminded me of the days when I was slim and fit and would wander all day and sometimes into the night. Times of wonder and delight and freedom. I could feel that peace around me now.
But I also didn’t fancy going back down the steep path I had come.
I knew where I needed to be. I wasn’t lost.
I could see an obvious route along the contour lines that would take me back home. Of course I couldn’t be completely sure there wasn’t a ravine or somesuch, I couldn’t be completely sure it was possible. There was that niggling doubt. But what in life is completely sure?
I decided to go for it, following a sheep track along the side of a fence. A fence that naturally enough followed the natural flow of the contours.
When above me out of the mist shot two figures. In shorts, going fast. They stopped briefly to consult a map and then ploughed on through the heather.
I have to admit I was pretty overjoyed. I wasn’t alone on a hillside afterall. Although I was completely safe and happy, there was something comforting about that.
‘I didn’t expect to see anyone else here.’ I said
‘Oh yes, we’re heading to Skiddaw House. We got pretty wet so we thought we’d take the most direct route.’
‘Me too’ I said, ‘I think I’ll follow you.’
My own plan dismissed, I ploughed on after them. Only to see them disappear fast down the hillside.
Soon I was alone and as they reached the bottom I realised their plan; straight down and then straight up to the track I had come in on. Indeed the quickest route for strong legs.
But mine weren’t stong. They were done in, knackered. I wanted not the quickest but the EASIEST route. The one with least contours. Our destinations may have been the same but our CRITERIA, our values, were different. The way we wanted to get there were different, and perfectly suited to ourselves.
Never follow someone else’s path, other people’s way of doing things. There’s a reason you do things your way, quicker, faster, the long way round. It doesn’t matter. It may not look logical to someone else but so long as it suits you, that’s the most important thing. The only thing actually.
The end of the story? Well I tried to get back to my original route. It was obvious now that it was the best one for me, the one that I would actually ENJOY.
It didn’t work out so well. I couldn’t quite reach it from where I now was, and ended up on a compromise route instead. My legs were knackered afterall, it was hard work, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy it much.