The road out of Sheffield climbs up and up, until you pass the last pub and the first millstone and then you’re in the Peak District. I’m wowing to a car full of people who are telling me to keep my eyes on the road. In being this close to the great outdoors I immediately feel better. The full day of drinking excellent beers in wonderful company the day before probably helped too. This is as close to normal as I can imagine feeling, as if normal is a thing that exists. This is what I think other people feel like 100% of the time even though I know that isn’t true. We get out of the car and wait for the rest of our little gang to arrive. Straight up the edge, I wonder if getting stuck in, head first, no messing is the best way to start a hike. Up, over the top and into the wind that makes me feel like I might take off. The view is hazy, clouds whipping across a frozen blue sky. Perfect conditions to enjoy being alive. Precisely this sort of thing. Walking along the ridge, stopping to do nothing but look. Smiling because you’re not alone. They must be enjoying it too, how could they not? We go far enough, maybe too far. The return path never really amounts to much. We march through bracken, over moss, through bogs, over streams into the dying light. Dusk brings out my favourite shade of purple. The pink on the horizon threatens to last forever, or at least until we get back to the car. We leave the light behind and drive into the dark of night.
This was the first and last time I went out since the end of summer. This isn’t new. I was in the same place last year, it’s more than possible that I’m always here. I finished too soon. At the time I said I should do more, and in truth I have. A mountain, more nights away, and on track to finish the year with close to an additional 365km on the clock. Some lessons remain unlearned. I was besieged by a lack of planning and a legion of poor excuses. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s too far, I’ve been there before, it’s too far, it’s too hard, and my personal champion; I can’t be bothered. I would be hard pressed to write off this year as a failure, but you an see why I might be willing to try. The little changes have added up and yet I still don’t feel satisfied. There isn’t enough light getting in. Maybe there will never be enough, maybe that’s OK. I am never going to be as productive as I think I should be, or it seems like everyone else is. There are so many things I think I should be working towards all of the time. Go to this place, see that thing, climb that mountain, spend more time away, drink more water, carry less weight, have better equipment, walk further. The trouble with having all these ideas is the thinking. I spend too long thinking about it, not enough time actually doing it. I’ll talk myself out of things, give up, lie down again in the quiet dark and do nothing because it’s easier, safer.
I felt as though I’d run out of things to do, or the things I were doing weren’t working out. Please don’t ask me about how the home-brew is going. Half a day in the Peak District reminded me it can be otherwise. You can have all the light you need, but you have to work for it. Make a plan, take action. Motivation is a muscle that can be trained, it needs reminding of what it can do, of what can be done, of how much can be achieved if only you would start. So start today, put pen to paper, begin writing. Put a date in the diary to go on that next hike, and then go. Pack your bag the night before. Make those pretzels, drink that beer. Starting might well be the hardest thing in the world, but it doesn’t have to be. Where it leads is almost always worth it.