Wide horizons for the new year
In the days when my children were toddlers, I remember railing against the limitations that little ones invariably impose. Let’s go to the beach this morning I’d say, then take a walk in the afternoon, and maybe eat out in the evening… I wanted to cram our holidays with activity; show that planning and persistence were all that was needed… It invariably ended in tears.
And I remember also, one rainy day when the kids were grizzling and my good friend pulling me quietly aside to say, ‘You know, Mark, it’s okay take a breather.’ His mantra, borne of raising two boisterous boys, was ‘do one thing well – and be happy it’s enough.’
It took me years to see the wisdom in that advice, and even longer to learn that slowing down wasn’t the same as giving in. Even now, supposedly semi-retired, I work every day and have a diary that’s too full to fit in all I’d like. There’ll always be a part of me that wants to push at the boundaries.
But I’ve learned too, that in the mountains especially, there are times when we must hold back. The temptation to press on can be lethal if taken too far, as can ignoring the signs of fatigue or over estimating the ability of others. Perhaps worst of all, is the urge to snatch at chances for fear they’ll not come again. Sadly, I’ve seen all too closely the dark side of those desires.
Which I’m aware is a rather down-beat opener to January.
But I’m conscious also (as I write this in late December) that this holiday season will see millions returning to the Alps for the first time since the pandemic. The resorts will be buzzing and the temptation to hit the slopes hard irrepressible for some—me included. My children — all adults now — will be with us at our house in France, together with partners and friends. How lucky are we to have this precious time together?
Which is why I’m planning to treasure it. And to do so by savouring ‘each’ rather than ‘every’ possible moment. The same goes for my plans this coming year. I want to walk the Tour du Mont Blanc, to climb a dozen classic routes, to get back in my kayak, run ten miles every week… but I know that I can’t.
So instead, I’m going to choose one of those and be content. Or more likely – for old habits die hard — one thing in its turn. This year, I celebrated my sixty-first birthday and am more keenly aware than ever, that despite life’s dandelion clock, there’s still abundant joy to be had in the mountains… so long as we slow down enough to enjoy it.
Wishing you a wonderful year.
This post has also been published as an editorial in the Austrian Alpine Club's monthly journal
To be able to walk and climb at all as years advance is a gift and to be treasured! May you find that joy in the execution of the one thing well, and let the many things come as they will! All best for 2023, YAM xx
Wow, I loved this post. Slowing down is not the same as giving in, and savor each moment rather than every moment - great philosophies to embrace. They would make great T-shirts, too! Your post has given me much to consider, and I thank you for it.ReplyDelete
Excellent resolution. I know people who fill their holidays with one experience after another, one activity after another. And some of that is good- why travel if we don't see and do different things? But there is great joy in simply sitting and soaking up the beauty around us, just being, as it were, with our family, our loved ones.ReplyDelete
Your friend was right with his advice. It is ok to take a breather and to enjoy one thing at a time. It is one of the challenges of getting older to accept this and not fight it.ReplyDelete
I just booked all of our hotels for our June trip to Vancouver Island last night, so this post came at the perfect time. We're taking our four year old grandson with us, so definitely time to slow down and experience the ocean and rainforests through his eyes. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Savor the moment is a good recipe for living well. Wishing you all the best for 2023.ReplyDelete
And may you have snow....F still takes holidays a bit like those you describe, but she knows you have a point and would spend her holidays poking about on the allotment if all that was required was to enjoy the time off work (perhaps we should buy her a flat cap). Not everyone in our household enjoys growing vegetables however, so holidays end up being a compromise. Maybe this should be the year of 'no compromise, take two holidays that suit at least one person each'.ReplyDelete
To do one thing well and really appreciate it each day... instead of several skimped. A good decisionReplyDelete
I feel giddy just reading about your plans but then I have become very sloth like in my old age.ReplyDelete
I too am having to accept life's limitations with my husband's failing health. I don't have any plans set in concrete as I know there's a fair chance they may not happen. At least when I am able to get a few hours off I get to savour every minute. Enjoy some of the challenges you have planned for the coming year - I'm 10 years ahead of you and know my current health limitations won't improve, so I'm not going to make the top of Pan-y-Fan this time round!ReplyDelete
Savouring the moments is so much more satisfying than greedily packing them all with this that or the other activity. Great advice here. I'm learning to enjoy more deeply, too. Is it perhaps something that comes with age?ReplyDelete
Catching up here on my return from a fortnight cycling in Cuba, this post makes total sense to me. For example, we didn't ride as many miles as I'd envisaged, but spending time in such an exceptionally interesting country, with a very dear old friend whom Covid had preventing me seeing for over four years, still feels like a great start to the year.ReplyDelete
I find that in retirement, my life has quite naturally slowed down, and that I love that. Being able to simply do what I am in the mood to do...what a gift! My whole life has been taken up with what needs to be done. Now life is taken up with what I'd like to do.ReplyDelete