I miss outside.
This morning, as our car came to a slow stop behind the crowd of motorway traffic, I watched as a lone Defender crested the hill in a nearby field. Steam settled around it as the engine cut out, and the door swung open. The farmer pulled himself from his seat, casually slamming the door closed, and looked to where the motorway stretched out like welted scar before him.
In that moment, I envied every breath he took of the air around him. I felt the bitter bite of the winter air in my own throat, and wished I could breathe it in deeper. The thought made me hesitate. I wondered, as he surveyed the bottom of his field, perhaps even the line of traffic sat at the bottom of it, if he envied me the air I breathed. Was he, in that moment, wishing he was sat in the lazy warmth of my car, feeling the heat of too much blood pulsing through his fingers?
At University I was often outside, wandering about in the bitter cold and complaining about how miserable life was. My daily excursions were mostly out of necessity as I didn’t have a car, and couldn’t afford the bus. I moaned incessantly about spending over an hour a day walking between the University’s main campus and the tiny, one bed flat I shared with Adam. I resented him his hour long commute by car to his University; thinking it was as easy as it was warm. I moaned about not having anything to fill that hour with, other than stupid fantasies of winning the lottery. I moaned that I was at least 5 minutes late everywhere.
Now I find myself severely missing the ability to up-sticks and walk around outside when I feel like it. I didn’t realise this until winter fully set in – when I was getting up early and getting back late – that I completely missed the sun altogether. For three months solid, the only sunlight I had was on the weekends.
It’s started to get light enough now that when I leave home in the mornings, it doesn’t feel ridiculously early. And if I’m quick getting out, I can often come home just as the sun’s going down. It’s lightened the mood considerably.
Yet I still couldn’t stop thinking about the farmer on top of that hill. I spent the day wondering why it affected me so much – why I suddenly spent my lunch break taking extra deep breaths of frosted air that stung the lungs as I walked to the post office.
It struck me as I sat in the car waiting to pick Adam up. Actually being outside wasn’t what I missed.
The past few months, since starting full-time work, going outside has merely been for one purpose: to get from point A to point B. I’ve been so deeply focused on moving forward, that I’m on constant autopilot. I end up in places without really remembering how on earth I got there in the first place.
And it’s not just my outside wanderings that are on autopilot – my life for the past 8 months has largely consisted of simply getting to the next step in life: get a job, move house, save for a mortgage, prepare for baby… and so on.
I’ve stopped acknowledging the journey I’m taking to get there. For example, I keep crossing off the weeks until my son is born, and not actually taking a moment to myself to just enjoy being pregnant.
At university, going outside wasn’t just about getting to and from home – I spent a large chunk of my journey lost in thought, and that often led to moments of clarity, and in turn, creativity. I haven’t had that the last few months.
I’ve promised myself, if there’s anything I do differently going forward, it’s to stop and take stock of everything going on around me. From now on, I’m not going to worry about where I’m going, but rather, appreciate the journey of getting there.
What about you? Have you been busy recently? How do you enjoy the little moments? Let me know in the comments.