Let me begin this blog with what may sound rather pretentious. Not the quote, which is lovely. But my choosing to attach it to a series of thoughts about cycling. “If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give the away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.” (Barry Lopez in Crow and Weasel) One my memories of my early childhood was writing stories. I didn’t write them for anyone. I just liked writing them. I still do. That’s probably another reason for becoming a nurse and a counsellor. I get to hear people’s stories. Or, more precisely, people choose to tell me their stories. Together we give them shape and structure and see where they fit with all the other stories. I think that’s why I chose psychoanalytic work. It holds that stories have meanings that go beyond their immediate telling. So I recently missed an appointment with one of my patients. They came to their next session with a story about a bad manager.(One does not have to be Freud to see the link!) So, this short series of stories about my Sportive is ended. All I’m doing now is reflecting on the associations it triggered for me. Associations which I hope others have enjoyed and will reflect on in their turn, so the story goes on.
As I have mentioned, I recently had an episode of depression. It was short-lived and unpleasant. But even when I was in it, I found myself observing myself. And noticing my symptoms. Knowing that I would eventually write about it in some shape or form. That way I could take something from the experience. And give something back. Otherwise I would feel as though I had missed an opportunity. A sort of psychic recycling!
So, to return to my Sportive. The final instalment is about endings. When we got back to the finish almost everyone had gone. We crossed the official Finish and were handed a bottle of tepid water by a bored official who had not just ridden 100 miles. Where was the band? The Marching girls? “Land of Hope and Glory” blaring from the speakers? Eliot remarked “This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” So it was for us. When I worked in a Therapeutic Community, we always had a Goodbye tea when someone left. It was a way of making sure they didn’t end on a whimper. The community could say goodbye. “Good luck for your future. Well done for staying the course. We hope you’ve learned enough to keep going.” When I left I cried for two weeks afterwards. I’ve never had such a difficult leaving. (One of the gifts I was given was a hug from a male patient. He had been a rent boy from 12 years of age. Became a male prostitute. Had done drugs and been in prison. He was a lovely man who found my work with him very healing. At my party he came and hugged me. I shall treasure that hug all my life. It gave so much.)
I digress! My point was about how we mark endings. In psychiatry it all too often is “Hello Michael. We’ve had a ward round and the doctor thinks you’re well enough to go home now.” Not exactly a planned discharge! The least we could do would be to give them a Certificate of Survival.”This is certify that xxxxx has successfully survived xxxxx in xxxxx ward. Signed. The Staff.” Crossing the finish line I did get a certificate. I shall put it on my C.V. for any future job interviews.
Thus ends my blog on cycling.There’s a 75 mile ride coming up locally. Very hilly. Very hard. But with lots of food stops manned by cyclists. 75 miles. That’s better than 100 miles. I wonder…
And whilst I think, here’s a fun song about riding all kinds of machines.