Are we sitting comfortably? I want to tell you a story about a lunch.
Fresh homemade bread, some thick slices of cold ‘off the bone’ Ham, a bit of chutney, a Kit-Kat and a bottle of water. That was probably the best lunch in my life. I just sat there on my own eating a sandwich which I had made for myself after breakfast. The Kit-Kat was an indulgence but I do like a Kit-Kat at lunchtime. I often have one during the day when I am at work. I have a sweet tooth.
Yes, I think on reflection that particular sandwich and Kit-Kat was the best lunch I have ever had.
Partly because this is what I was looking at while I had it.
But actually It’s not even the view that made it the best lunch. It was what I had done to get to the view.
Anyone who knows me will have a selection of words or phrases they might use to describe me. Hopefully some are even complimentary but one word that no-one will use is ‘driven’. This is because I am not a driven person. I don’t even like being driven. I will never voluntarily surrender the keys to a motor vehicle. I hate being driven, but that is a different kind of driven of course
I don’t mind being told what to do funnily enough, which is just as well as if most things were left to me, they would not get done. My wife thinks I think she nags me, which she does but she has to. Is that too much using of the word ‘she?’ I’ve been very much about ‘never try and accomplish today that which would more easily be done tomorrow’. I would never, ever, do something difficult, or arduous or tiring without having a compelling reason for doing it. Something compelling like survival or rescue for example.
So I would never go on a ‘walking holiday’, I would never go mountaineering or take up running or even just go outside in the cold to compete with other people for some points on a board. It’s in my genetics some might suggest, but it has actually been something else. I am also incredibly talented at finding an easy solution to things other people would labour over. Things that require physical effort or the use of tools. I pay tradesmen to do that stuff. That’s what they are there for.
That being said, when I put my mind to resolution of an issue I feel needs rectification. I will be relentless in my pursuit of what is right or fair. I will only back down when I encounter actual impossibility. Otherwise I will just keep going until the end of time, or I get my way. A large telecoms provider has found this out on more than one occasion. The score is currently Vodafone 0 – Sandy 2. I’m very resourceful. I think I’m largely a relaxed person but also given to outbursts of fury when I meet the slovenly or inconsiderate of service or action. I was once described by a very wise person as ‘an angry young man’. I most certainly was. But I’m older now.
I digress. Why was this the best lunch I ever had?
It would take too long to explain what has been going on in my head for the last 21 or so years since I left New Zealand. ‘Turmoil’ would be a good one word description. Because of the manner of and my feelings about the departure and the reasons for it. I had not left on my own terms. That alongside some things that happened not so very long ago mean’t I’ve had a challenging few years inside my own mind. When I say ‘few years’, I mean nearly half of my life. I was fundamentally unhappy. It’s hard to explain but I spent an awfully long time asking ‘what’s the point?’ Of everything I did before eventually, usually unwillingly completing almost any task or activity. I look a bit like and can function like a regular person, but everything is a chore, because I just could not be bothered with or about anything. It’s not a pleasant way to live. This may come as news to most that know me but like I said, it was a state of mind, not outwardly visible. It was my own world inside my head.
We have wonderful friends who invite us to stay with them on the side of a mountain in Scotland every year. This mountain. In New Zealand it would be called a hill, it’s a mountain.
I’ve looked at that mountain every time we went up to Scotland and wondered what the view would be like from the top of it. I also knew I would never find that out because I did not have access to a helicopter to take me up there. I was most certainly not about to walk up there as that would be impossible for me. Far too much effort required to even contemplate.
Sometime around the middle of this year for reasons I have no knowledge of I somehow shook off my apathy, inertia and negative state of mind. It was a bit like emerging from a cave. I’d like to give you a catalyst but I don’t have one. For no particular reason I came out of 20 or so years of turmoil. I just became more inclined to do things off my own initiative rather than getting around to it when I couldn’t put it off any longer. We also got another invitation to the lodge on the side of a mountain in Scotland.
On Saturday 6th of October 2012, I got up, had a coffee, went outside and looked at the mountain as I did every day when we are up there. You can’t miss it really. It’s right there. I went back inside, made my sandwich and told my wife I was going up the mountain. She was quite taken aback. Probably a little worried, as was I as the place is very remote. When I say remote, the lodge is nearly two hours down a single track road beyond Fort William. There is no mobile phone signal and I was going out into the wilds of Scotland on my own, up a mountain where there are no footpaths or even tracks. I wanted to do it though and I would never have taken it on before now. I told Jenny which direction I would be heading and she just looked worried and said “don’t change your plans”.
If I fell down up there I was on my own. It would be several hours before I would be due back and no-one would know exactly where I was. There was also no way of summoning help. It was very irresponsible really. But I’d been in the army once upon a time so I believed I knew what to do if something went wrong. Well I hoped I did. Don’t try this at home.
So I went. I quickly discovered the mountain was much bigger when you are on it then when you look at it. It’s also very rough going, like I said, no tracks to follow.
I’m not at all fit so had to stop a few times, lean on my stick and gasp. I would look further up the mountain and set myself another goal of a likely looking place to stop again and ask myself what on earth I thought I was doing. But I was doing it. All around me I could hear the roaring of Stags echoing off the valleys. I could hear water running under the ground beneath me and all about me. There was a weather front crossing not far away. I could actually look across the weather!
After a few hours I got to the point I felt was the limit of responsibility and going any further would evolve into actual danger. I had no climbing equipment, just walking boots and as I said. I was on my own. I found a very large piece of granite that was shaped a bit like a seat and I sat there. Here!
I opened my little rucksack. Took out my sandwich and I ate my lunch. Looking down on the world from my vantage point. There was more world above me but I was sensible enough to not push my luck. But for the first time in my entire life. I had gone out on purpose to do something I didn’t think I could do. I hoped I would press on when it became tough but I actually even thought as I set out that I would probably go home when it got a bit hard. It was much tougher than I thought it would be but I kept going anyway under my own terms.
I just sat there with a simple sandwich being very happy at having climbed my mountain.
My sandwich was the best lunch I ever had.
Thank you for reading my story. It’s just supposed to tell a tale about a happy ending and my happy beginning. There is no particular point to it other than that but this is my blog and sometimes it’s nice to tell a story just for the sake of it.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.