Unplanned resolutions

January 27, 2016

I didn’t plan on making any resolutions this year. Or rather, I didn’t get round to making any, and the usual ones apply just like they do every year. Exercise more, drink less, think more, write more, be kinder to myself and others. That ought to cover it.

But I’ll be turning 40 in October, and I feel like I should have some great adventure before then, make some epic journey. Easier said than done with a wife, a daughter and a job, though, plus we’ll probably be moving house twice this year.

Without any intention on my part to fill myself with ideas of adventure, a couple of things recently have reinforced the idea of doing a big trip. Maybe it’s a kind of confirmation bias, like the way you’ll see pregnant women everywhere when you’re trying for a baby, or learner drivers all over the place if you’ve just passed your test.

Lovefilm sent me Wild, a story of self-discovery by way of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and my sister gave me Life is a Wheel, an account of a trip across America on a bike. Both of them got me thinking.

There’s no way I’ll be able to get away from my everyday life for that length of time, but I’d like to take on some kind of challenge, and push myself further than I have done before. Last year I ran my first 10k, so the logical next step would be a half marathon. A big bike ride would be good too - maybe I could tackle my first 200k. But mass participation events are mainly just a physical challenge, something that you can train for. It’s much easier to not stop when you’re surrounded by other people going in the same direction.

There’s something about spending a significant amount of time alone in unfamiliar places and challenging circumstances that helps you to learn something about yourself. Maybe it’s just enforced contemplation - I imagine that prison might have a similar effect. When I was younger I did a few big solo trips, and I would fill A5 notebooks in a few weeks - I started my current notebook nearly 7 years ago, and I’m not even halfway through it. I guess it’s partly because I spend more time using computers now, so the beginnings of pieces of writing go into Evernote instead, but I think it’s more to do with the fact that I’m spending less time on my own, so I’m not doing as much navel-gazing.

For now, I think a long weekend might have to be the limit of my ambitions. Maybe riding the South Downs Way, or walking another chunk of the Pennine Way. But one of these days, I’ll take on something a bit bigger…