Sunday, 29 May 2016

Why we are more awesome than we think we are

After writing my last post on being paralysed by fear, I was reminded by the boyfriend that four years ago I was s*** (his words) at camping.
 
A previously successful camping adventure
Yes I remember that first experience with him well – a long weekend just outside Oxford. I had camped a couple of times before – nothing too strenuous and I’d survived.

So in my head this was going to be a lovely drive in the countryside, and a couple of nights, cocooned in a cosy, little tent while the stars twinkled above us. It was still the honeymoon phase of the relationship. Camping; I couldn’t think of anything more romantic.

Until we arrived. It was October – and that was the problem.

All thoughts of romance vanished amid the growing darkness and steady drizzle. The temperature quickly plummeted as I squelched through the mud, trying to erect a tent in the dark. It was about then – wet, cold, muddy and hungry – that I realised that camping in October was perhaps not the most intelligent of ideas. This was a baptism of fire.  

And the going didn’t get any better. Two sleepless nights ensued where I was forced to “sleep” with all my clothes on, trying desperately to keep warm and my nose thawed without asphyxiating myself with the sleeping bag. At least I had a mattress of sorts, not that it insulated me from the cold, bumpy ground.

But it was the mud that did it for me. Goodness there was a lot of mud. My two pairs of shoes were coated in it, the hems of my trousers a glorious dank brown colour. Granted this wasn’t the equivalent of Glastonbury or V Festival, but still, the mud was decidedly unromantic.

I grumbled and moaned. The boyfriend noted the empty paddock and how we had all that muddy-green space to ourselves. He was enjoying this; I couldn’t think of anything worse.    


You would have thought that horrific experience would have turned me against camping. Yet since that mud-filled weekend, as the boyfriend reminds me, I have slept under canvas numerous times – while trekking New Zealand’s Kepler and Routeburn Tracks, while wandering part of the South Downs Way, in a forest in Kent, and on boggy ground under Mt Snowdon. And in a way, I’ve weirdly grown to love the freedom that a tent brings (although a love affair with mud is yet to be seen). And I’m now considering my first wild camp.

The point is, it’s easy to forget how far we have come, and how much we have progressed and learnt. We race through life, fuelled with
impatience and fed with quick fixes. Then when something requires more time and effort than we want to spend or when something pushes us too far outside our comfort zone, we give up or make excuses, believing it’s outside the scope of what we think we are capable of.

That’s bollocks of course. We just don’t recognise or appreciate that, in many circumstances, we have already developed many of the skills to help push us further because of the incremental steps we have already taken.

Our awesomeness already exists, and by recognising what we have already accomplished in our lives, however small or great, we also recognise that the foundations are there already from which we can build our dreams.        

Four years ago I may not have been able to contemplate camping more than two nights in a row or surviving without a shower. Now I own a bivy bag and I’m considering a wild camp. For me, that’s only been possible because of the perspective I’ve put on my personal progress (thanks to some help from the boyfriend).

The same is true for any aspect of our lives. And when we recognise this, it’s truly liberating. That’s when anything can be possible.


What have you accomplished in your life? What awesomeness already exists from which you can build your dreams?