Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. I once read that to live in the past is depression, and to live in the future is anxiety. Mindfulness is about centring yourself to the here and now. This is aimed at making you only aware of what is happening now, and not getting caught up in worrying about what could happen. It makes a lot of sense. Unless of course you get stuck in the moment, and that moment happens to be a nightmare. Then it’s not so useful.
I got to thinking about this after a recent trip away. We were going off to lovely Devon for the weekend. Lots of things this year had been cancelled, but this is one thing we were going to enjoy. I got the red wine ready for the lodge and a box of Quality Street. Nothing could stop us enjoying our only holiday of the year. 2020 had taken lots of other things from us, but it couldn’t take this. We were staycation bound.
And then, the weather systems decided that they wanted to throw us into the first major storm of the year that weekend. It started in Spain and then drifted up France towards the south west of England. In hindsight we should have just cancelled and stayed in the warmth of our own home. But we’re British, we’re used to rain. And we were bloody well going to have a good time!
To try and beat the problems on the roads that I knew the weather would bring, we started off early. Always better to be at the front of the traffic. As half of the country weren’t allowed to leave their local areas this paid off. The M5 was plain sailing all the way. And then we left the safety of the motorway, and the problems began.
First of all I knew that there was a main road along the coast that we could pick up. But I had no signal on my phone so we were at the mercy of the satnav. I have a strong opinion that satnavs are in cahoots with petrol companies somehow. Because did it choose the main road we could follow all the way? No it did not. It took us in a major storm down a 10 mile single track road. There was debris all over the place and even with the windscreen wipers on full it was difficult to see what was happening on these hilly roads. At times like this mindfulness can help- just focus on the task at hand and you’ll get through it.
And we did. We made it to Ilfracombe. And there awaiting us was the glowing safety hub that can always be relied upon when everything else is closed- Wetherspoons. So the first disastrous part of the journey was over.
Then it was time to make our way around the coast to Bude. Again I knew that there was a main road we could follow. But satnav had different ideas didn’t he? Up the mountainous roads we went again, leaving even B roads behind. Then after 20 minutes of struggling to get round the place in a 1.2 litre engine we came across a flooded road we couldn’t get past, so would have to turn back. This is the moment I swore off mindfulness.
I parked the car up on the side of the road and cried. “This is a disaster! We can’t even get to Bude let alone where we’re staying which is in the middle of nowhere. We should have just stayed at home.” At times like this it’s hard to put two words together in your thoughts, it’s like something is just blocked. The solution won’t come, it’s like it doesn’t even exist. At times like this you have to screw the midfulness shit.
We were in the middle of nowhere in the pissing rain, with no idea how to get to where we wanted to go due to satnav conspiracies and mobile signal outages, and our petrol was running low. No amount of watching SAS:Who Dares Wins can help you in a cutout of technology. And no centring yourself to the present moment with mindfulness will help either. That present moment was exactly the problem- I was in hell, I didn’t want to stay there!
When we turned around we happened to pass a petrol station- glory of glories. Whilst in there a lovely young guy told me to just go into Ilfracombe town centre and follow that road all the way to Bude. It was so simple and he was so confident that it instantly made me feel better. I ignored my satnav from that moment on and trusted what he’d told me. And we got there.
People are the best
My lesson from all of this is that sometimes stuff you read about in self help books is just shit. When you need help, there are times when you can’t do this for yourself. Just cry and ask someone to help you if you need to. People are the best.