Or, as I soon realised, it is all about having a purpose in life.
My good mate from University has a monumentally flaky girlfriend and they had planned this weekend as a lovely 3 days of walking in the most beautiful of places, the Lake District. For his birthday next Monday. And she bailed last night. Cue a phone call to Dom: can I go walking in the Lakes for several days with nearly all expenses paid, leave Sunday morning? Hell to the yes I can.
But it’s not really all about helping out a mate. It is the planning a road trip at the last moment element which is also fun for me, and very purposeful. Knocking out a few Wainwrights and Scafell Pike (pictured above) in mid-November is not without a host of weather-related hazards. I mean, who wants to suffer the indignity of being helicoptered off or having a Mountain Rescue team have to locate me because I have been an absolute cretin? This means I get to get the right OS map sheets, assemble my winter hillwalking kit, get the appropriately sized rucksack from my embarrassingly large one for every occasion collection, reproof my waterproofs, apply yet another coating of Leder-Gris to my trusty Altbergs, do an inventory of my gear, and bake two loaves of bread because we are self-catering in a camping pod in Borrowdale. Oh, I also need to check and adjust the tyre pressures in my car for the 6h drive and add my mate to my insurance. And get him a birthday card for next Monday because it wouldn’t be very sporting to wake up on Monday and forget the poor sods birthday?
I have had to cancel an interview on Saturday, will have to make a short video for theMSguide.com explaining that normal service (a Friday release of something good is what I promised; like voluntarily putting a gun to my own head but if I don’t have pressure/expectations/purpose then I am a lazy bugger) will be interrupted.
MS wise this is a ‘good thing’ because I have a firmly held belief that ensuring I have a purpose is critical to staying well. The fact that much of my purpose is focused on physical activity is a happy accident for my MS. There have been a few times in my life when I have allowed myself to drift and that way lies dragons. Dragons of inactivity, listlessness and mental anguish. Seriously, it is very bad for ones mental health to lack purpose. You can rapidly go to some very dark places where it can get very Hotel California very fast. And if that last remark puzzles you then imagine me sighing deeply, remarking about the youth of today etc and then reminding you of the immortal line, “Welcome to the Hotel California…where you can check out but you can never leave”.
I usually loathe stories with a moral but I will temporarily overlook that for a moment because the moral of this post is that if you don’t want to slide all too easily into a spiral of inactivity and mental health issues then it is critical that you have a purpose in your life. And in case you were hoping that someone or something is going to come along and give you that purpose then you are deluding yourself. Purpose comes from within and you need to construct it from what is there. In my case, today, it is helping out a chum and going walking in an amazing location.
Here endeth the sermon, I shall dismount from my soapbox and bid you adieu. I’m off to the Lakes and there is a lot to do before I leave.