The blogs that I follow impress me. The writers are able to quickly capture a meaningful thought process or opinion, tie it in with a wee story or current adventure and unfurl these two things at the same time to the reader. They present their thought process and story tied together in such a way that it seems as if life has deliberately dealt them to the blogger in unison, for the sole purpose of being able to educate others. If this is all then presented in an easy to read & engagingly worded manner, I find it easy to take their opinions on board.
I started a blog because I impressed myself. I didn’t think that I could write and I still uphold this opinion. However, with my leg smashed up, I was annoyed by someone, so I wrote him a letter, I read it back to myself, it sounded ok, so I let it out to the masses, 2 tweets by well known climbers later & my blog had been read by 2500 people.
Then I clammed up. I stopped blogging. Despite the fact that I’ve had “meaningful thought processes”, “opinions” and “adventure stories” all summer:
- The intimidation & feeling of letting myself down when I first returned to rock climbing after winter. I scrambled up the rain laden mud banks of Tremadog. I struggled to keep up with my mate, even on the walk in. I then actually heard myself say “I can’t climb this” as well as “I’m scared Ben”, all in the same day.
- Doing an outstanding job of being a best man, having very nearly got myself sacked from the role just the week beforehand.
- Constantly shying away from “You live in a van, don’t you Steve?” related questioning at work. It could go one of three ways, they could either think I’m a weirdo, they could be insanely jealous but not able to do something similar or insanely jealous and inspired to do the same. The latter hasn’t happened yet. I don’t have children but I do respect people that do. I don’t have any huge financial commitments (that aren’t taken care of by tenants) but I do appreciate that others may have family or other unavoidable commitments. Others may feel restricted by circumstances they now can’t change. Others may not have the money to buy a van in the first place. Living in a van isn’t easy but no one wants to hear about the hardships of my freedom. So, I’m not comfortable with what I see as rubbing people’s noses in what they can’t have. However, when this topic of conversation is pushed it always ends with the comment from the inquirer of “What you’re doing is absolutely brilliant”. They then smile, I relax and then (because I already know that living in a van is brilliant) I smile back.
- 2 people very close to me being diagnosed with life challenging diseases.
- Choosing to work on about 45 days worth of Sky Sports Cricket spread across the whole summer from May to mid September. In previous years, 45 days of work would have stretched from the beginning of May to mid April and then the next 45 days would have started (that’s working everyday if you didn’t get the joke). Oh, and I did do Wimbledon as well, but it’s still been a massive down size in my working life.
- Teaching myself to ride a road bike. I blame the fact that I thrive in solitary sporting activity on breaking my leg as a kid and subsequently being banned from playing team sports. At the same time, marathon training, for example, was a battle. With road cycling, every single part of the training was fun…. Especially doing 91kmph coming into Betwys y Coed.
- I worked as a team with another television editor for the first time in years. After so long in the game, I have grown slightly numb to churning out TV sport montages, but he was full of energy, new ideas, new ways of thinking (or rather new ways of thinking that I had previously been apathetic to adopt) He put me in my place when it was warranted. I was learning from another editor. I lapped it up. I dropped back a few years, the numbness will hopefully not come back for a while. Thank you Ally.
- I travelled the land, joining the dots of cricket grounds with delightful spots in Niall Grimes’ “Boulder Britain” guidebook. I didn’t know what bouldering was about (not too high solo climbing with a mat to cushion a fall). I bought a mat. I faffed for a while in the corner of a quarry surrounded by broken glass & misspent youth. I faffed 2ft from the floor. I finally linked the moves together. An instant smile beamed across me. So satisfying. I sat. Puffed & content. I then repeated this simple process at all manner of venues. Two of many highlights were visiting the great climbing bastion of Slawston Bridge in Leicestershire, where I camped overnight in the deathly silence of middle England with no other sound but my tinnitus and Slipstones in the Yorkshire Dales, where I spent my birthday to myself with only the remains of a WWII bomber for company.
- I cycled 950 miles from Barcelona to London in memory of my friend Milton, who died last year of cancer & to raise money for Orchid, a men’s cancer charity. To the supporters that followed our plight on the internet, this must have seemed the perfect charity event. However, beneath the surface, the swan’s the legs were flailing furiously through an undercurrent of personality clashes of fatigued minds and, in one person’s case, physical violence involving a knife.
- Just these past two days I have been on a course with Chris Holdsworth of The UK Mountain Centre learning to aid climb (rock climbing using nylon ladders that are attached to protection that you place in the rock). Slashed by sheets of rain, sliding down moss slimed slate walls in the Lake District. Hauling bags, bouncing on ropes, smashing pegs, balancing on wires. New skills, ultimately put to the test on a hardish route, made even more testing due to the weather. On Tuesday I fly to California where I plan to use these newfound techniques in the currently closed National Park of Yosemite. What can possibly go wrong?
These are highlights from an incredible summer, new ways of thinking, new pastimes, a new way of working, of living. But these only seem like meaningful thought processes to me. Why would I upload them to the internet if I have not found a succinct message to preach?
What my new way of life does allow me to do is completely process or at least start to process every thought that comes into my head. When we find ourselves too busy with work and other commitments, then we don’t have time to process thoughts properly. Processing my experiences and thoughts is important to me, not to anyone else, maybe others could learn from me if I had even more time to write it all out. But then who am I to presume that others are interested or think along the same lines as me? I’m relishing having the time to process these thoughts in the first place, I don’t want to stress myself with trying to wrap them up in an easy to package self help scheme for others.
I love the fact that others do manage to achieve this. That is why I think about wanting to do it myself, I’d like to have the skill to be able to quickly capture and engagingly wordify my life.
Nick Bullock writes brilliantly about “Choice” which I feel wraps up a few of my thoughts from this summer in a “I could have written that” kind of way (yeah right Steve!). But then, when I think about it, when Nick wrote that, he had processed his thoughts already, or maybe that was part of the process. Either way it helped me process mine.
Dave MacLeod wrote about finding a life balance as opposed to taking a one-off “Year Out” sabbatical. Again, something that I must agree with as I can back his argument with personal experience.
I guess that what I can deduce is that it is rewarding to read these blogs. It’s cool to see that others have the same thoughts as you. It’s interesting. Affirming. In life, I believe that seeking constant affirmation is unhealthy, however, periodic affirmation from people that we respect is extremely healthy, if not essential.
So on this basis, maybe I should have simply shared my thoughts on each of the situations that I described above. Even if there is one person out there that respects me or thinks in a similar way on certain points (there must be surely/ hopefully?!?!) then it may have been affirming to them to find that someone else is in a similar situation. Maybe by others sharing their thought processes then it makes it easier for the busier among us to process their own thoughts and find affirmation for their own actions.
This concept is made even richer when bloggers project their ideas with complete honesty. I believe it’s important to share the dark thoughts as well as the positive. People seek affirmation that all kinds of thought processes are normal.
So, this summer, I’ve had a bunch of thoughts and processed them internally. I continue to do so. In the meantime, with the help of the extremely talented camera man & journalist Rory Dickenson (who is also delightfully wordy and well worth following here) , we have made a wee film about a recent adventure. I’m very proud of putting this together in a single day whilst on the road and think I will do it more often. Maybe that is a better outlet for me than writing?