The dizziness of freedom

2020 – not much to report on hence the lack of activity on the site…see you later, bye!

Ok so there have been a few bits and pieces that I probably could’ve written about or commented on but it turns out, I’ve just been trying to get my head around modern life like most people. It doesn’t make for the best blogging but part of this exercise was for me to find an outlet for my thoughts, such as they are, so let’s give it a go.

The year started with a funeral at which my dad, the most stoic of Northerners broke down in tears while reading a eulogy for his father, my grandfather Alan. It’s set the tone for the whole year, through reflection and trying better to understand my place in the world more than anything else.

I’ve had zero luck in working it out but the time afforded by “Living at Work” (as we should be calling it rather than “Working From Home”) means that I’ve been able to wallow even more than usual and still without any resolution.

I was very aware that I used running as a distraction technique, one of the only ways that I could find peace within my own head, but I’d also fallen out of love with that. It was supposed to be a celebratory year – my 10th since I “ran” the London Marathon, hated it and subsequently swore never to run again, only to be reborn in the ultrarunning and Born to Run boom with a taste for ultras and newfound passion.

But after completing my goal of 100 miles in under 24 hours in 2018, running hadn’t been able to keep the allure it once did. Runs had no purpose and couldn’t silence the voices of negativity that I could conjure from the most positive of situations.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that during this crisis of identity, my blogging has reduced to almost zero and my social media activity has dropped off, in terms of frequency and quality probably. If running is the thing that defines you and you don’t like it, what even are you?

Anyway, back to 2020, my celebration of running and I very quickly knew it was going to be anything but. I decided to pull out of Madeira Island Ultra Trail, despite promising that I would go back after DNFing at halfway in 2019. That’s not a lie, I will go back. It’s had a haunting effect on me, like a lucid dream of the most stunning scenery beating me into submission, a cathartic and humbling arse kicking at the hands of never-ending mountains and crushing heat.

With MIUT out of the picture, I had literally nothing to aim for. So I just kicked about and drank wine. Lots of wine. And ate take-aways. Even Chinese take-aways which I really don’t like because I could and because, and this sounds dramatic, I had nothing to get up for.

It was the first time, in what seemed like an eternity, that I didn’t have a goal, a direction and couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to create either. In Jersey, having time on your hands and no direction can be a dangerous thing.

But luckily (joking), the whole world was cast into Covid chaos so not having a goal didn’t seem too bad. Like everyone else, I now just had to not only survive but more importantly, not impact anyone else.

And survive I have, so far. This crisis or whatever you want to call it has shown that I am so, so lucky compared to billions of people. I knew this before of course and often felt very guilty about it but the pandemic brought it into sharp focus.

There is a phrase that has echoed around my consciousness for a couple of years – “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom”. It’s by Soren Kirkengaard (sorry couldn’t find the funny O on the keyboard) but don’t let that pretention fool you, I’m fairly sure I just saw it on one of those annoying Instagram accounts. Anyway, it’s been very helpful in processing my feelings on…well life really.

For me to be able to sit in a room writing this means that I have had the fortune to be born where I was, with parents and a family that love me and have supported me fairly unconditionally throughout nearly 37 years (two more days at 36, I accept cheques and postal orders). I’ve written about my anxiety issues before but I’m aware that I would have reacted very differently to this had I not been recommended counselling in 2014. I’m also massively aware that not everyone is as lucky as me so I’ve tried, where possible to “reach out” or keep people communicating, the only thing I’m good at on paper. It’s not mind-blowing and nowhere near the levels of creativity and inspiration that I read about every day (let’s hope it doesn’t take a pandemic to realise the NHS is valuable yeah) but sometimes just getting through to the next day or the task of the day is enough. I’ve learnt to try and beat myself up less about not having a goal and striving relentlessly towards it like everyone on IG or LinkedIn seems to be, if I get my work done and keep somebody entertained then I’m happy with that.

This is a really long way of saying that there is so much information out there that it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. But maybe the trick is to look at the trees and appreciate them rather than trying to get out of the woods at this particular time?

PPS – Before lockdown, I did my 19th different parkrun location in a rather epic and muddy Itchen Valley Country Park outside Southampton so I’ll write that up at some stage.

PPS – I’ve been doing the Joe Wicks Body Coach 90 day plan thing for most of lockdown but if I wrote all my feelings about it now, after a few glasses of wine, I would be here until somewhere into November and I have a presentation on Wednesday. So watch this space for an abridged version.


One thought on “The dizziness of freedom

  1. Love your honesty on here Sam, I have often found that getting through a day is bloody hard, during lock down learnt to appreciate looking at the tree rather than the wood!
    Love you and happy birthday tomorrow (and your birthday memories from 3 years ago is a different bog all together)


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