#vanlife Day 15

Today I accidentally climbed a hill!

Hillwalking has never been something that has remotely interested me. My good friend Jim Ramsay does a lot of hillwalking with some rather exceptional photography. But I have never once considered it something that I would ever do, but after today I may have been converted.

I decided I’d take Tommy for his morning walk as Catherine has requested some alone time for deeper reflection at Loch Morlich, next to our campsite. I decided that I would go on another route this morning as I didn’t want to repeat the Loch walk as I don’t like getting sand in my boots!

I decided to be adventurous and cross the road, still not really knowing where I was going. I then happened upon a crossroads that offered me some alternatives. One was signposted in Gaelic and I thought back to my childhood when my father spoke of the Gaelic brogue, hoping that I would get a translation; then I remembered – he never spoke Gaelic to me! Unperturbed I looked at the steep path that lay ahead on Meall a’Bhucaille (pronounced Meal a voo-cal which translates as Herds Hill) and decided that at least I would get some good exercise from taking what looked like a more challenging path.

After much panting …


So 20 minutes into an ever-ascending slope I then realised that this path might well indeed be a path to the hill I had said to Catherine on our visit to the Green Loch that I would like to climb. I love how my desires turn into realities …

Not many people know this about me and that’s why I wanted to write this blog as a means of revealing a little more about me and my journey. I consider myself to be a spiritual person, not a religious one. I’ve had the religious experience and it’s not really for me, that’s why I gave in my career in #Agile: it’s become like a religious dogma with zealots of all sorts doling out their vacuous advice on people who are not yet converted. But that’s a blog post for another day…

Are we humans having a spiritual experience, or spirits having a human experience

Back to the point, I believe in a spirit, a greater power, one that watches over us, cares for us, and loves us. Unlike religion where there is some white bloke with a big bushy white beard chucking thunderbolts at people who displease him … yes HIM. This spirit seeks to give us all that we want … if we would only step out of the way and allow it (not him or her) the opportunity to fulfil our desires and help us create heaven (or hell) on earth.

So I laughed as I climbed this path, which incidentally is invisible from the ground below if you were trying to see a path climbing the hill. The path is only revealed to those who chose to walk it. How deep is that? Much of my spiritual revelation has come to me when I least expect it and at the time seems quite profound. I will reflect more on this in the future but for now, suffice to say I felt like I was on a mission to get to the top of this hill.

Tommy’s not impressed …

40 minutes into the walk and now I’m puffing and panting with the exertion. Tommy isn’t too impressed as he has tried to turn around and go home at least twice. Terriers are like that, they know what they want and they go for it, they are so wilful. I have learned much from Tommy who seems to find joy in the smallest of things … like the poo he has just scoffed while I was labouring up the hill. (I do love the guilty look he gives me when I admonish him and tell him that there will be no kisses from me today after that little aperitif!!!!)

So now Im 50 minutes in and I think I have told Tommy a number of times “only a little more now boy!” Am I trying to convince him or me … I think the latter! But seriously though, the brow of the hill looks so close and yet all I can think of is “ I promised Cathrine I’d be back to brew her hot chocolate, and here I was with still the journey back to consider and I hadn’t yet got to the top.

Are we there yet?

55 minutes in!
Ok now I feel that spirit is teasing me as I can see some human figures nearing the top of the hill. I look at Tommy and his pace has slowed, but not his interest in the black slugs that proliferate these slopes – I just hope he doesn’t decide to have a taste experiment with one of them. I ask myself should I turn back now and make Tommy my reason (read “excuse”) with a promise to complete the walk another day. NO! I have committed to transforming myself (again) and one of my past patterns of behaviour that I have changed, is that I tend to stop short of giving my all, to do just enough and then tell myself “I could have done more, but I’m ok with what I did” Invariably I end up being disappointed both in myself and my efforts which makes me beat up on myself. Not getting the first-class honours (70 points short out of 2000points); not getting the distinction in the master’s programme (I was told it’s almost impossible to get that but yet someone else did!!!!). These pains of regret hurt and I have been less than compassionate to myself as I feel like I let myself down by not being all I can be.

So I stand there some 200metres from the summit (it might have been 500 or 50, I don’t know) but I decided the pain of letting Catherine down is better than “nearly” reaching the top. So I push further. I’m so glad I did.

Spoiler alert … there’s no Costa Coffee at the top!

Reaching the top isn’t something that I have achieved in my career at any point. It is something that has been of great angst to me. I consider myself to be someone of much talent and intelligence, yet I have never had accolades in my career. Like most people, I have been recognised and appreciated at many times, but never yet have I had the satisfaction of winning an award or being recognised as a leader in my field. It sort of makes me think why have I bothered at all. I could have just worked a menial job and received as much recognition, maybe more! I have reflected many times in my career on how much of the work that I have done has come to nothing. Software that I have written has become obsolete or rewritten; systems I have analysed have never made it into design or development; projects that I have managed were cancelled, subsumed or migrated. Thinking about the futility of it all can become quite overwhelming as I struggle to understand my place in this world. That in itself wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t see other people who I have judged as less capable (dare I say incompetent) achieve greater levels of success than I have done.

The sweet taste of success

Anyways, I digress and sorry for the sullen dip, but the reason I share this is that moments such as reaching a new height are new to me. I did it! The sweet feel of satisfaction, and the joy of accomplishment strike a chord in me that silences the chatterbox that is my self-critical, ever-judgemental mind. The joy I felt as I surveyed the peak was sublime, so difficult to put into words. I’m not sure if it was the awesome beauty that revealed itself from underneath the clouds, the majesty of the landscape. Or was it the satisfaction of a small, yet personally significant achievement that had been missing for the last two years of my life? Something had stirred in me, something had awoken that had been dormant for some time. A sense that I am still alive, I am significant and more importantly spirit still values and loves me. It had cunningly set a task before me that I had unwittingly and accidentally accepted. Once I had been lured in I had committed to its completion. Yes, I had doubts, but not about my desire or my abilities. My doubts have come from my attitudes that had tried to thwart my progress and would if I let them rob me of the sweet satisfaction of success.

Returning now down the hill I had the sense of being maybe not a new man, but a newer man. One who wanted to continue to be alive, one who wanted to still succeed. I don’t know where the next days, weeks or months would take me but climbing this hill will stay with me for many a day to come.

About me …

I am a digital nomad who specialises in organisational change and personal conscious evolution. I share my experiences on the road authentically as a way of journaling and hopefully providing some small inspiration to others out there looking to escape the hamster wheel.

3 thoughts on “#vanlife Day 15”

  1. Hugely enjoying your travelogue…..I’ve always found that the hardest thing about an adventure is actually making the decision to go…the fantasy of it can be sustaining but only for so long. Once you’ve taken that first faltering step the rest is easy(ish). Since you left JES I’ve been looking at camper vans…I’m getting a little obsessed. It’s all your fault! Looking forward to future episodes….

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  2. Brilliant! What a cliff hanger… certainly lots of thoughts for the w/e… did Catherine get her hot chocolate? Did Mark live to tell the tale? Can’t wait for the next episode!!!! Btw… not your shape of ball but can’t lose sight of the wider world in the calm and relaxing isolation of the Highlands. Reds are on tonight in Champions league final!!!! 🙃

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