We went for a walk yesterday along the Thames path. l thoroughly enjoyed myself-to my surprise. It was hard work but good to have time to talk-albeit about nothing very profound. My wife has already done most of the seriously pretty bits of the walk and I’ve always said “No” to going with her. My choice would have been a 50 mile cycle ride. This year, however, is not going to be the year of 50 mile rides. (I haven’t done a 20 miler yet.) So I said “Yes” this time when she asked me. And it was lovely.
I was thinking about these two parts of me. The part that has always in the past been able to do long, fast cycle rides with confidence-if not ease. I knew what my body was capable of and expected it to get on with it. Which it did. Then came February and major heart surgery with all the attendant baggage that brings. Suddenly my body was not under my control. Every day seemed to bring a new set of worrying aches, pains, creaks and moans. The earth beneath my feet was definitely not as solid as I had once assumed. Now in September I have just celebrated my birthday- one I so nearly didn’t see. Doing a longish walk seemed like a good way to celebrate being alive.
I was thinking about vulnerability. About loss. And Recovery. About Hope. About acceptance. In my career as a nurse and as a counsellor I’ve seen so many people in distress. And so many people who are at war with their wounded parts. The war is conducted with sex or drugs or alcohol. With depression or anxiety or psychosis. Sometimes in combination-which makes life very difficult.(Steiner talks about psychic retreats in the sense of people retreating behind anger or misery etc as one way of avoiding psychic pain. Sadly it doesn’t work. One simply remains trapped and mostly unreachable.)
One of the psychoanalyst Melanie Klein’s great understandings was that we are healthy when we know both our love and our hate. We cease pretending to be nice.kind, good al the time and allow ourselves to know the shadow of these feelings. Our hate, envy, rage etc .When both these aspects of ourselves are acknowledged, says Klein,we are healthy emotionally. It seems to me that this integration covers other parts of our selves. Knowing that our limitations are as much a part of ourselves as our achievements. That the times when we are depressed also go to make us who we are as well as our times of triumph. That doing an eight mile walk is as much part of me as doing a hundred mile bike ride.
Welcome to walking as well as riding.