Reflections from the SWCP
As you read this, I will be on day 30 of 31 days of running the South West Coast Path. 945km done, 70km to go, four times up and down Everest completed! 6 pairs of shoes, some tears and many magical moments. The support and fundraising has been amazing. We are 80% towards our target, so please do support if you are able to at:
I am sure thoughts will settle as I return to normal life, but before they do, here are some initial reflections from the bubble of an extreme physical challenge.
Our entangled lives
This has been a forced reversal of self and work. Instead of work dominating and dictating mood and use of time, each day has been about preparing for and executing an immovable physical challenge. Ensuring that mind and body (self) are united and tuned towards a common purpose. What the self can achieve when tuned and oriented to a clear goal is extraordinary.
The act of stepping away from normal life has made me realise how entangled we become in our lives, whether that be work or whatever we find ourselves facing. Small annoyances become major stressors and our life force is misdirected at tasks of little consequence. Of course they seem important, life threatening almost, but are they really? Finding a way to keep perspective is different for each of us - for some it might be friends who keep us levelled, or time in nature, or reading. It seems crucial to have regular moments where we re-boot, reassess our priorities and go again.
Add or subtract?
The natural inclination is to add, to grow, to obtain. Big is better. This in turn leads to more clutter of mind and life, and the need to earn more money to fuel the acquisitions. More entanglement. I passed a sticker on a road sign by a small surfing beach in Cornwall that simply said “Buy Less Do More”.
This phrase really stuck in my head for a good few days after running past it. The research about money is clear - spending it on experiences rather than things is beneficial. Take it further - how about doing more that doesn’t involve spending money at all? Walking or running the Coast Path is free, as is access to almost all of nature's great wonders. Spending time with family or friends doesn’t need to cost money. How could you simplify your life, remove the psychological clutter and focus on what matters to you?
There is a renewed interest in research and medical use of psychedelic drugs, and increasing talk about ecstatic experiences. In all cases people describe a loss of self, a removal of ego that frees the mind and allows the soul to soar. I have had several ecstatic experiences on the Path. The circumstances are always similar.
Extreme natural beauty and scale, towards the end of the day when the body is nearing exhaustion but also still going strong; an open path, possibly gently downhill aiding a feeling of freewheeling; an empty mind devoid of work worries or worries in general; and a great house music track on the headphones (I have listed a couple below for anyone interested). I find myself letting out a spontaneous whoop of joy. Unentangling ourselves and being in nature create the perfect conditions for these experiences. Where can you find your ecstatic experiences?
I will write again when the dust has settled.
Thank you again for all the support and good wishes, and here is that link again if you can support in any way: https://www.justgiving.com/team/edswcp
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