This morning I was feeling lethargic, unmotivated, struggling to kickstart the day.
Should I move forward my daily exercise routine and go for a run first thing? Self-isolation has instigated a routine that I am reluctant to disrupt, and my once-a-day exercise takes place at the end of the day, a welcome break that sets up for the evening. A sensible, healthy structure important to embrace in these troubling times.
So I decided to ‘cheat’ and entertain a supplementary spot of ‘exercise’. A collective intake of indignatory breath erupts! Don’t do it!!
Nevertheless, I wandered out into the fresh air. The deep blue sky and a piercing sun washing across the landscape before me. I felt invigorated. Could ‘smell’ the clarity of the air. Was inspired, moved, motivated. Overjoyed even. I roved far and wide and felt much better for it. Liberated.
I stepped back ‘inside’. Ready to tackle the day with renewed vigour and perspective on things.
How dare I, you might say, go for a ‘second’ period of exercise (actually that would/will come later on when I go for my evening run in the environs surrounding my home).
Did anyone notice my double-foray? Were curtains twitching with the echoes of mass-tutting across the neighbourhood? No. Not a peep. They wouldn’t have noticed anyway.
I was strolling across the desert. Monument Valley if you must know. It straddles the borderlands between Arizona and Utah. A barren, yet somewhat ‘lush’ stretch of desert-wilderness as old as time, and home to the Navajo nation, themselves casualties to the Great American Dream that swept across the country obliterating any native claim to the land...
It is a hugely spiritual and ancient land, replete with vibrant colours, red-orange hues counterpointing the deep and endless blue and yellow of the sky above. With hardy shrubs pinpointing miniature oases of green, and hinting at an abundance of desert life beneath the surface. Much has been written of this ‘scape, of it’s legacy, of it’s role and that of the far-reaching extent of the American South West canyonlands and deserts in myth, in burgeoning national identity out at the frontier. It’s role in popular film documenting the pioneers, the lawlessness, the grandiosity of the human spirit and it’s capacity to flourish at the extremes.
Of course I wasn’t ‘really’ there. I live in north-west England! But in effect I was. In a virtual rendition of it. A suspension of disbelief helping to transport me from the living room. Via Google Earth VR.
The scene was provided for me in glorious immersive 360. The rest I provided with my imagination, memories of having been there before. And most of all belief that I can go then again. One day when this all dwindles into a poignant memory.
For now, I can happily enjoy my multiple sojourns ‘outside’ knowing full well I will not be spreading a virus, will not be coming into contact with anyone, will not be cause for indignation or admonishment.
The point here isn’t to smugly extol how wonderful it is having access to all the toys. Rather, it is to simply reinforce that the power of the imagination is a key facet in ‘winning the war’ against anxiety, isolation, concerns over ‘going stir crazy’. You don’t need a VR headset (though it might help if you are that way inclined). A photograph might suffice. Or in fact just the imagination. Meditation, mindfulness, are techniques that much is written about these days – all you need is to sit still, focus on being calm, observe thoughts – occasionally letting the imagination wander (but in a disciplined way). Focusing on something positive that will stimulate you and keep you in that headspace that is excited, enthused, motivated – dreaming of bigger and better things. It might seem blindingly, irritatingly, obvious. But the most obvious things are frequently overlooked in life. And discipline is a key component in keeping even the obvious at centre-focus – even just momentarily. I have alluded to this previously, talking of how a simple moment of contemplation on an object, an artwork, a memory, your breath can instill a focus, calmness, impetus that outweighs the apparent ‘triviality’ of doing such a thing. But by doing this rigorously, every day - first thing in the morning - you can switch the gears inside, prime the motor, prepare for lift off!
Any other ‘tools’ that might facilitate this, are just that, ‘tools’. VR is my current ‘tool’. Imagination is the key. But discipline is the enabler....
So use this time as an excuse to have more than one period of ‘exercise’ in your day. You might not be venturing outside to do so, but don’t use that as an excuse to not to anything at all. Use it instead 'other' forms of 'exercise': inwardly-focused, attentive, imaginative - and designed to rejuvenate the 'self'!
Right, I am off up Everest. See you later!