I have been sat the past five weeks locked down in Spain unable to leave the house. I’m not unhappy about this, the opposite is true, I’m quite fortunate in fact. Things have been sedate but peaceful. The weather one expects when in Spain has been absent and instead I have had been subject to days of mist and downpour which has given me time to collect my thoughts. What thoughts you ask? Well, sit down with a cup of tea like the good chap or Lassie I know you will be and let me dispense these thoughts.
Part uno. Most people I know of are growing up and taking steady jobs, along with a mortgage and paying attention to what will happen in 40 years when they retire. This old cockle of life has told them that this is indeed the plateau life comes to. The main and only hinging of their life to which all energies should be focused. Sensible, inevitable and pointless to refute.
Part Dos. A good many of the Stars, idols or what ever we like to call them in life, or specifically with reference to my life and interests, have gone. The life span of mountaineers and adventurers is often snuffed out too soon, the people in their prime leading the way. It raises the ethics of what is this pursuit worth when balanced against life. I know when I tell people what I like to spend my time doing they don’t see a rational man in front of them but an idiot, who hasn’t weighed up their future final years or immediate years that could be. A great folly.
I was reading a conclusion to an interesting study today. One by the American Cancer Society. 127,000 Healthy people (no underlying conditions at the time of signing up) were questioned for the study over a course of over 21 years. After 48,784 of them had passed away, a connection was made between sitting average of six or more hours per day and a 19 percent increased risk of dying from any of the mentioned -cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, liver disease, peptic ulcer, digestive diseases, parkinsons, alzheimers,nervous disorder and musculoskeletal disorder. While the study notes this is not the cause of death, and it is wide open to interpretation, I think it does show whether you believe in god or evolution, our bodies are not designed or evolved to be desk jockeys. We are not meant for a corporate machine sitting still like a good boy monotonously processing data only stopping to eat or sleep. The risk to life increases with the hours sat. Sat at a desk hoping for a pain free retirement but failing to reach it, thus never really living their life.
I have spent a good while not working and travelling or just doing the things I enjoy. When I do work, I work hard, or as hard as I can. I don’t hold much in the way of possessions, I never have a fancy car, usually an old banger of a van, but I have experiences I wouldn’t change for the world. After the 2008 financial crisis and carpentry dried up, I spent a long while on a road bicycle cycling, it brought me joy the whole summer, I wore out bearings and components, replaced them, and wore them out again. I worked at an outdoor centre part time for a while and spent every spare minute I had hiking, running, climbing or kayaking, then after a while working again I went to Australia and spent a good deal of time on beaches and going around national parks. After a year when it was over and I came home, I had a good part of the following summer off work going to festivals and camping and just being me. The following year I tried the Royal Marines for a few weeks, and after leaving, decided a few months later to hike a trail I read about as a kid in a book called ‘The worlds greatest adventure treks’. I hiked 2400 miles of the CDT at a blistering pace and had never been more content in life. It wasn’t the aim, but it is what I did. A couple of years later a cycled roughly along the same route but climbing peaks I could only dream about as a child. I then met Karli and kept going. We drove down through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, onto Colombia. We hung around there a while having a blast with friends before shipping the car back to the states, Spending spring and summer in Colorado then heading off again to Colombia to cycle tour North to South. The plans have rarely gone perfect, but the freedom of adventure has not stopped. We jumped across the pond and have skipped back and forth between Britain and Europe climbing and hiking at every opportunity. This has taken ten years to cram in this fun, and only skims the surface. The point is my life hasn’t fit into a regular life standard for most people, but when my joints are worn out in another 40 years. When arthritis has set in and the cartilage has gone. When I am forced to retire like the rest and I am down to a state pension alone, I can finally sit down. I can sit and write a book about the life of retirement from age 18. I can write about 60 years of adventures if I am so lucky to get so many. I can write of the hardships, I can write of the lows, the Highs not experienced in the ‘common hours’. I can write of the beautiful people I met along the way.
I don’t want to live normally, I don’t want to be enslaved to a car payment, I don’t want your insanity, I don’t want your two weeks out of each year to make it worth it. I don’t want the lie that is sold every day. Have you ever read the book and been inspired by the man who took a steady job in an office, saved for retirement, then retired? That will not be my book when it comes to the curtain call.
Part B on the Way