I ain’t gonna lie and say this week has been all sunshine and roses and puppies, so I won’t. I won’t even talk about it, because complaining is a slippery slope. You start out angry at your McDonalds taking too long and end up cynical to the point of hating sunshine and roses and puppies.
Nah man. Can’t go down that road again. It’s a perilous one that isn’t holy or electric, its just lame.
Sure, take time to grieve and rave every now and then, but avoid the habit of cynicism and over-criticism (that’s rich, coming from an actual critic). It ain’t good for anyone… Except depressed poets and some of us artsy types.
The reason I’m giving you (but mostly myself) this pep talk is that I’ve struggled this week. The negative clod that boiled away in me for so long came creeping back ever so insidiously, seeping into the cracks opened by boredom and comfort.
Things just seemed to keep getting worse and worse. I’d mess up an assignment, drop my fork, say the wrong thing to special someone’s and just dig myself in deeper. It reminded me of how I used to think. Each tiny mishap, each small step backwards was a death-knell, an apocalypse, a screaming god-damned hell.
So you can see why thinking that way again made me a bit worried.
Things all seemed to culminate today with a bit of an internet banking fiasco that apparently caused me to lose money. That was it, I thought. I need to get out of here.
The main culprit of depression, I think, is the time to think and reflect. Normally it’s very good for you, but if your negative or your chemicals are out of whack, meditation becomes grinding. Silence becomes over thinking and doubt. And that’s what I faced. Sitting in my room for a week on end doing an assignment and mulling over the freaky future just got me down.
So I went for a ride.
Exercise, no matter what it is, is great for you in so many ways. You don’t need to go to a gym and get swole. You don’t need to have a perfect butt or abs. You can just take things at your own pace, slowly challenging yourself more and more until you surmount you inner and external mountains.
For me, its cycling (with maybe a bit of weight training every now and then). It get’s the blood flowing while taking you to do many interesting places. Cycling around cities is one of my favourite things to do. And so today I left the doomed comfort of mein Zimmer, rode my usual route down to the city and then headed home.
But something called me down the road, along the tree lined banks of the Neckar River. I pushed myself down the straight-away, hoping to wear down my stress through exercise, and ended up flying. At the end, just outside of Mannheim, I realised I wasn’t quite done, I wasn’t beat yet. So I kept going.
With nothing on me apart from my phone and wallet and no plans for the daylight hours I just decided to head for the mountains. It’s something I planned to do since I arrived and I’m definitely proud of it.
The 24km ride from Mannheim to Heidelberg is the longest route I’ve taken in a long time. Sure, I stopped in between to buy a water, but I kept pushing, surprisingly easily, through the riverland air, not quite sure where I was or where I was going, but following the quiet tracks towards the mountains.
Through pockets of thick wood and crumbling riverside docks, through paddocks and fields and over annoying little humps and bumps, I finally arrived in Heidelberg. I took a photo with the bridge monkey, had a bite to eat and a drink, then took the train home.
And then I realised something. I’d dropped the straw if my little Capri-sonne Juice and I wasn’t pissed off. I wasn’t defeated. It was just… “Eh”. Then my train arrived at exactly the right time without me even checking the timetable. Then I got on the phone and (hopefully) sorted out my previously devastating bank problem.
So I think I found a solution. I doubt I’ll be riding 30km every day (I’ll be sore walking around Paris tomorrow!) but I can definitely get out. Escaping computers, pressures and the clinging boredom of empty rooms seems to be a fairly solid way of beating some of the blues. Time in nature, time just pumping blood and breathing clean air, can do absolute wonders. It really clears the head!
Here’s hoping my banking does get sorted out though! I’m on the bus to Paris now and want to be able to splurge on good food!
Au revoir! Keep pedalling.
(PS: I’m on the bus to Paris, and it’s 1am. Please forgive any misspellings in this groovy parable.)