Binning The Past to Enjoy the Present
...and Where Did November Go?
November is a cheeky month. Long summer days are followed by frantic autumn days where we try to squeeze in as much as we can before the winter arrives. We look forward to the long November nights where we can spend countless hours on the sofa sleeping, reading, relaxing, and recharging.
Yet somehow, November never quite seems to be the slow, relaxing, chill month that I look forward to every year. Instead of being a gentle 30 day transition from the winding down of autumn to the beginning of the winter, November zips past on hyper-drive like a dial that suddenly clicks from Remaining Outdoor Jobs to Christmas Panic.
Call me weird (and yes, you wouldn’t be the first,) but I tend to get the seasonal blues in May. Don’t ask. I’m normally at my happiest in November. This appears to be the complete opposite to what we all believe is the case for most people. I put this down to the fact that May signifies the onset of busy times. Throw the seasonality of Leisure Vehicle Journalism into the mix, and its no wonder anxiety levels spiral as the days get longer, then obligingly come down again as they get shorter.
Home Sweet Home
Dougal and I returned home after a three month trip on 1st November. It was blissful. Our three months on the road was intense, not helped by continuing family commitments and more than a dash of lingering Covid symptoms. I just wasn’t shaking off the fatigue, and the novelty of needing to spend 14 hours a day in bed quickly fades. You don’t have to dig very deep with Dr Google to find out that it’s quite normal for Covid symptoms to linger for 12 weeks. That’s not great when you’re charging around Europe or needing to put in six consecutive 10-hour days at the NEC. (As it happens, I travelled to Birmingham three days early just to ensure I had sufficient time to recover from the journey of a mere six hours.)
Two weeks in Uist in November saw both me and Dougal restored to our former selves. Restful nights, no alarm clocks, plenty of outdoor and sofa time, and a moderate amount of general faffing, slowly but surely nourished the soul and revived the spirit. If you consider the 90 days away as a non-stop working week, we were enjoying the 18 weekends - all 36 days of them - in one hit.
It’s hard work letting things go
Our return home on 1st November was significant. It was the first time in over 10 years that I finally had everything - and I mean everything - in one place. There were no boxes in my Mum’s loft, there was no caravan marooned in Germany by Lockdowns, there was no second caravan in a storage shed in York, and no other parts of my life strewn across the country. In addition to that, I had transitioned from an Airstream and a Pick-up truck to my cute little Xplore caravan and an EV.
This could only mean one thing - that there was now a LOT of sorting out to do.
No longer did I need duplicates of caravan stuff. Now that I caravan with a mobile 77kWh Power Bank, I no longer need things like jump leads, battery packs, alcohol burning heaters, or an inverter. On top of all this, I decided it was high time to streamline my camera gear.
The process of sorting out the above was exhausting. Finding new homes for the camping gear associated with the Airstream was tough; an affirmation that this hugely significant part of my life was over, and a painful acknowledgement that I’m no longer as young as I was, as active as I was, or as adventuresome as I was.
Sending off my Sony A7Sii, its lenses, my Sony RX100vii, and my DJI Mavic Pro drone for trade-in, and giving away my old gimbal, was also very hard. These weren’t just things, they were the tools with which I had crafted many hours of content, and with which I had recorded many years of good times. However, the big heavy equipment was often left at home where it was no good to anybody, and I do need to get lighter camera gear.
I’m definitely a minimalist who gets anxious when there are too many excess things in my life. The fewer excess things there are in life, the less there is to worry about. Getting rid of the motorbike, the Airstream, the camera gear, and a lot of other stuff was so, so difficult. But it was a short sharp pain that needed to be endured in order to live a freer and lighter life in the long run. I don’t want to be trapped in my past.
Most of us are guilty of wrapping up our identity and our sense of self in our things. I’m terrible at doing it. This is fine (to an extent) if your identity affirms who you really are right now. For many of us though, me included, our identity is wrapped up in our past, affirmed by the things that were an important part of that past. Our past does indeed shape who we are, but it does not and should not define us forever. If we stay trapped in the past, we don’t grow or evolve.
The skill, and the difficult bit, is to identify who you are now, who you used to be, and what you need to do in order to free yourself of your past so you can enjoy your life in the here and now.
A Great Resource
If you find it hard to say goodbye to excess stuff but you’re anxious about having too much stuff, try reading or listening to the book Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki. It can get a bit repetitive and sanctimonious at times, but overall it’s a great tool to have in your kit to motivate and help you declutter and move on with your life.
Cheeky! Hopefully it won’t be as long a wait for you for the next newsletter now that a lot of the emotionally draining work has been done. Look out for a Christmas Special Video on my YouTube Channel - probably on Friday 23rd December. It’s called a Cosy Caravanning Christmas, and it’s a very relaxed and chilled affair. What I have set out to do is show that Christmas need not be about excess and waste, but it’s an opportunity to appreciate the simple luxuries in life, like the smell of a freshly-peeled clementine, or the joy of a cosy evening reading a book and drinking tea. I’ve also set out to show Christmas spent alone in a positive light, as I find there are few examples out there for the millions of people who prefer their own company. I hope you enjoy it.
In the meantime, whatever you are or are not doing this Festive Season, I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from Dougal and from me, and a huge THANK YOU for your continued support.
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So glad to read that you are on a good way of giving yourself the well deserved rest you obviously needed☺️ take your timeout and enjoy the little and slow things in life as you do sometimes on your journeys. and spending the days alone is somewhat enjoyable and refreshing during that time of year and in your case... you have the best company one can have: Dougal 😉 i wish you all the best things. merry christmas and a jolly good start into the new year. "see" you in 2023. 🎄
Hi Andrew! What a lovely read this was, calming and evocative!! Loved it, no negativity or politics or well, anything controversial! Thank you so much for everything you do, glad you had a rest and managed to clear your mind as well as your cupboards! I have to sort myself out possession wise as well as mentally. I don't go on Twitter very much now, a lot of people I used to talk to have either got fed up with it or feel that the whole idea of it all and the novelty has worn off! Plus, although I changed it so I only received posts from people I follow, the morons of this world still manage somehow to invade my timeline spewing bile and attention seeking outbursts that I frankly now am bored and totally tired of full stop! Anyway, you've had a very busy year and you so deserved a bit of respite and a total recharging of your batteries. What a strange couple of years we've had since the pandemic started and I think so many of us are in need of a more enjoyable, free, fresh start and hopefully 2023 will bring us peace and quiet and new motivation and creativity! Take care, don't overdo it, look after yourself and Dougal and I wish you the merriest, joyful Christmas and enriching, uplifting New Year to come! Bless you! Love and hugs xxx