There’s nothing I love more than being outdoors. It’s one of my ‘non-negotiables’ in life, key to my personal well-being, and probably one of the reasons why 2 members of our household have 4 legs not 2 (we’re not counting the Guinea Pigs here).
We love to put people into pigeon-holes, whether it’s introverts v extroverts, scientists vs creatives, dog owners vs cat owners, indoor types vs outdoorsy folks. It helps us to make sense of the crazy chaotic world around us. I also happen to believe that human beings were not meant to spend so much time inside 4 walls in artificial light. So this of course is one of the main reasons why i have a DESK job……!
It wasn’t meant to be this way. The ‘Grand Plan’ on leaving Uni was not to join the rank and file of the grey, suited, brief-cased (code for boring) commuting office workers, but to do something more exciting instead. Like join the other kind of rank and file, the Police Force. I had it all worked out – the application form for ‘The Met’ Grad Scheme went well, the boxes ticked and the mind was set. Then the invitation to the assessment day came through, and I bottled it. Fair to say, I was talked out of it by someone who I really should not have listened to, but there you have it.
Joining the rank-and-file
I did, however, join the ranks of the desk-bound and, 23 years later, I still seem to spend a vast amount of time bent like an S-shape, such as no proper human is designed to be. It is a constant battle to stay sane doing this, much as I enjoy my job, I cannot help but look out of the window and wish I was outside instead, letting my mind fill with ideas, fresh air and space to breathe. No accident this perhaps, since Dad was employed (admittedly in a pretty hard-core, full-on style) first as a medic in the ‘Paras’ during WWII, and then as a Police officer. It’s maybe in the blood. My 2 sisters have always been active, outdoorsy people as well. Neither succumbed in a major way to the 9-5, indoors way of life. Both of them driven by a need to have their faces to the elements.
Claustrophobia is also a driver – I’m not fabulous with small spaces in a stereotypically claustrophobic way (being stuck in a lift once as a child probably sparked this one, along with having a bedroom which had no more space than to squeeze in a single bed and a chest of drawers). I don’t much care for the Tube or public transport either, but then I’m probably not alone with this. Nothing makes me want to punch someone in the face faster than having my head unceremoniously stuck in their armpit while they invade my personal space, all the while looking wholly unconcerned about the whole thing. Yuk.
Mountains vs. Coast
Given a choice of mountains vs sea, I’d be picking the sea every time. Maybe it’s being a citizen of an island Nation, or having a Norfolk-born father which drives this love of the big skies you get with the coast. The wild anger of the sea in the winter is just the best head-clearing medicine you could possibly hope for. I love taking the dogs for a long chase along the beach, catching imaginary balls in the sea (well the first ball is real, it just gets so immediately lost in the surf that the subsequent balls become the imaginary ones to keep the fun going). If my face isn’t scarlet from the cold, and I haven’t had an involuntary skin peel from the whipping of the North wind then it probably hasn’t been a great day.
I wish I could find the photo I know exists somewhere of me, Mum and Dad on a beach (in Norfolk), in the summer – on one of those god-awful days where everyone else has abandoned the whole idea and gone somewhere warm and dry. Somehow we are brazenly sticking it out, grimacing and hunkered down behind a brightly striped wind-breaker, thermos in hand, sandwiches living up to their name (full of sand, naturally). These days it would be in ‘The Cloud’ or on Facebook as a selfie, but back then it was a roll of film and then an actual printed photo so who knows where it has gone, sadly.
Those grimaces I’m sure were just smiles in disguise because I know I’d rather be gurning a face into the wind any day of the week than watching and wishing I was from the relative comfort of the office walls.
Originally posted 2016-12-15 23:00:16.