In terms of my writing, it has been a dull summer. No theatre reviews, I have barely finished another book, and since June I have made just four posts. Technically I still have another two weeks to go until the semester re-starts and I get back into the rhythm of work and play. However, the cause for my hiatus in articles has been a rather remarkable summer, and one which I’m glad to have enjoyed rather than thoroughly documented. Ten weeks of opportunity, exploration, relationship, and discovery. And that’s all after my hike up that big ol’ mountain (which I did remember to write about here)
It has made me put into perspective what I find important, particularly in terms of a balance between obligation and enjoyment. Last year I felt a failure if I didn’t write at least once a fortnight; whilst this makes sense when writing for a publication and hitting deadlines, for a forum in which I write for my (and hopefully your) pleasure, I realised it is more important to live a life worth writing about, rather than holing myself up in my room desperately trying to eke out some creativity from my fingertips. In fact, I attempted to write this very piece a few weeks ago, and again failed as nothing would flow. Then today, I sat down and started typing, and this is what occurred.
It is vitally important, in my opinion, to embrace life and engage with those around you. Don’t seek out or manufacture things that are a good story, but rather just keep living and the extraordinary will happen in, around, and through you. My hike up Kilimanjaro was, I hope you agree, a noteworthy experience anyway – but it was made more so by the video diary I kept along the way, documenting my thoughts that I could then reflect upon, rather than attempting to recreate it all upon my return.
This has been a wonderful summer. A few weeks of work and recuperation after Africa and I went to France for a week of climbing and bouldering. Bouldering is a discipline I’ve never enjoyed and find very difficult to grasp mentally. I’d much rather fall 10metres and get caught around my waist by a rope than fall 2metres and land on a mat. But a week in the beautiful French forests of Fontainebleau, surrounded by thirty odd friends, acquaintances, and strangers, enjoying campfires and far too much boxed wine, made bouldering a more pleasurable experience. And by the end of the holiday, I was attempting, and completing, climbs that I’d laughed at on day one. I discovered a little bit more of my physical ability, and my mental capacity to override my fear and apprehension. Without those people around me, however, I fear that never would have happened.
Just a few short days at home and I was back on a plane to Africa, this time heading to Durban. My birthplace. Where my roots begin. Where my family are and my heritage lies. A strange, foreign place with which I have no connection other than the initials ZAF on my passport. It was amazing to see relatives again after seven years, but reminded me so keenly of how much I dislike the country, and how grateful I am for the freedom and relative security of England.
It was only by going to a place that pushed my physical limits, spending time with people who encouraged and teased me into striving for more, and revisiting a bizarre and lost city, that I’ve come to remember who I am, what I strive to achieve, and where I feel most at home. It has been a summer that I’m glad to have done in my adulthood, as these memories won’t be vague like those of a child. I realise it’s incredibly cheesy to claim ‘I’ve learnt so much more this summer’ – so rather than saying I’ve learnt anything, I’m saying I’ve remembered so much. I’ve never written a self-reflective like this, but it was the right time, and frankly I just placed my hands on the keyboard and decided to see what came out. This is it, and it is slipping me back into my writing routine. I hope you don’t mind a little self-indulgence – after all, it’s what we writers are for.