At the weekend I like to take the dogs for a walk somewhere different to their usual weekday haunts – it gives us all a fresh experience.
Sometimes I’ll know where we are going, for instance if we’re heading to Orford I’ll check the tide timetables to make sure the water is in – this means easier swimming for the dogs and less stinky estuary mud in my car afterwards. Other times I’ll just bundle them into the car and start driving. Where we live in Suffolk we are very lucky with our options: heathland, forest, farmland, rivers, beach, any combination of these.
On Saturday mornings my mind is usually pretty jumbled – tired from the week, possibly a late night on Friday, working out what to do over the weekend. This means I have usually gone a few miles before I even start thinking about where to stop and walk, it also means I might have missed a couple of options already. Around this stage my conscious mind starts to warm up a little – I know I need to find somewhere, but the car seems to be propelling me forwards and limiting my choices. For some reason turning around and exploring the ‘missed options’ does not seem like something I can do. As I drive through the forest I notice the occasional place where I could pull in on the side of the road, but by the time I have processed this information the car has already taken me past them. I get to a ’T’ junction, as I vacillate a car comes up behind me indicating left, I turn right to be free of them. I am on a larger road now so drive faster, which seems to preclude me from turning off. I enter a 30mph speed limit and as the car slows so does my mind and I realise I am coming into Orford. The tide is out, a drizzle is setting in and the wind is cutting along the sea wall – this is not the walk I want to do today. The dogs in the back of the car are not impressed by my indecisiveness. I decide that I need some time to think so drive back into the forest, pull over and let the dogs out for a stroll whilst I work out where best to go for a walk. I lock the car and follow them as they bound into a world of fresh experiences. About thirty minutes later, in the heart of the forest, my mind wakes up to the fact that I must have made a decision at some stage. And this time, a good one.
Read this and take from it what you will – I am still pondering the conclusions for myself, so wouldn’t presume to foist any upon you. Instead, here are a few questions to help with your thinking – feel free to add more good questions to the list. Maybe find someone to help you chat through your answers.
When does it serve you to have a clear destination in mind?
When does it serve you to be open to discovery?
What are the potential limitations of each of these approaches?
What stops you from turning back and exploring missed opportunities?
What is your default destination? Can you remember why?
What inner and outer factors affect your state of decisiveness?
Who’s driving the car? For you, what is the car?
And finally, who are your dogs? And what could they tell you about you?