I have been agitated.
Mind full of itchy & scratchy
Like the hives that appear after nettles.
I once whipped my back with nettles.
To relieve the pain of strain from climbing a wall at CentreParks.
We travelled with Wendy, and I remember competing with little children until muscle shred and spasm stopped me.
It was the year I worked in Rotherham as a registrar.
The year I discovered rectal diclofenac.
I remember the nightshifts, unable to sit or lie (the pain), walking the wards until dawn.
I remember layers of ice coating the BOC oxygen supply.
Like the water hydrant I saw last night.
Little did I know that this would lead to an exclusion on my income protection (no early retirement with a musculoskeletal injury for me).
Has, I think stemmed from my lone-ness.
I am holidaying in Iceland.
A solo trip, the first since my 20’s.
Back then, energised by adventure I would strike-up conversations, embark on adventures – Pere Lachaise, Marseille, Luxor and the Charles Bridge. The domestication of my 50’s has kept me still. It has been me and my family, the way I like it.
And now, here I am.
Me and an island of strangers.
A hodgepodge of Icelanders, English, Americans and Chinese.
Yesterday, a Spanish couple on the airport transfer talked non-stop for 45 minutes.
I find in my isolation a heightened sensitivity to sound and the conversation of others.
Last night, shortly after arriving, I jogged around Reykjavik. (March & light until 9).
Me, the road, ice, dead grass and some scattering geese.
I think of all the ways our minds sabotage us.
Here, I write in the hotel reception, brown noise playing through noise-cancelling earbuds.
You see, too much alone time and I become lonely; other people and I am overwhelmed. A social catch-22.
I reflect on something I read recently.
‘How will I know if they keep Kosher?’
‘Don’t worry, Orthodox Jews are like Vegans, they will let you know.’
At breakfast, the chef rushed to the front desk; a girl with allergies had arrived.
I don’t know if lactose intolerant or properly allergic.
‘I can eat that and that and that,’ she pointed.
By the time I had finished my cinnamon swirl, I knew too much about the girl’s intestines.
At times like these, I think of mindfulness and mental health.
I recall square (box) breathing.
This, when you inhale for four seconds, hold for four, out for four and hold for a final four seconds. Sixteen seconds of mindful attention to the breath. Keep doing this and your internal dialogue will start to dissipate.
Like those images of dreams in Inception.
We often forget about the maintenance of mental health until it is too late.
You see, our psyches are like muscles. They strengthen with practice, repetition, and training.
Rely too heavily on drink, drugs or thrill-seeking and you will be let down; your mind will not sustain a health body.
Work the spirit! (Not the boozy variety.)
Invest in yourself.
‘Me time’ it’s called.
Doing things that are for you and no one else.
For me, my time is reading and running and swimming and blogging and listening to podcasts.
I have a heck of a lot of me.
How much me depends on you and your needs.
For some this would be too much aloneness.
Some, those chatterers amongst you require more dialogue, discourse, for me, silence is it.
There is giving too.
The gift of giving.
It is better to give than receive, so said Jesus.
If you let me give you the substantial, this will complete me.
‘I don’t need/want your…’
Think about it.
And love and time with others, and sleep and good food.
Avoid too much refined sugar.
A little honey, OK.
A guide to life, as if I know what I am doing. As if.
I began with the Mindfulness.
This is focusing and avoiding the wandering.
Is what it is to be human.
It is also detrimental to our psychological health.
Our dreams are mind wandering.
They take us on an unconscious journey of healing.
And where would we be without?
I’ll end here, there is too much to do.