For to be free is not to merely cast off one's chains,
but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela -

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Moonlight brainwash

I've just come back from a refreshing walk with the dogs. Soaking wet I am. Usually Ken walks the dogs at night, but he's already in the Youth Hostel where this weekend we meet up with a lot of other HE-ers for some good old socialising. This time it took us some extra planning and organising in the logistics department, because Owen was offered the chance to play in a Lord of the Rings tournament in Glasgow and although we'd already booked him for the YHA weekend, it was too good an opportunity to miss for him. Would you have told me three or four years ago that I'd happily let him go off to stay with his friend for a couple of days and even go to Glasgow while I was going the other way at that same time, I probably would not have believed you. But he's doing it and both he and I are absolutely comfortable with it.
Ken left around midday in the van, to pick up the food for the weekend. Myrna went with him to collect one of her friends, who is now coming with us instead of Owen. And I went to pick up AL and her friend M from campus, because they're looking after house, dogs and cats while we're away. I didn't fancy driving to campus first - 1,5 hour there and back - and then nearly two hours to the Youth Hostel, so I'm staying at home tonight and leaving early in the morning.

I wouldn't go out in the middle of the night in the pouring rain if I had a choice, but I didn't have that choice, so I put my rainproofs on, stuck that silly but o so useful headlight on, woke the dogs and took the plunge. And once I was outside - and wet - I must admit I enjoyed it. It's nearly a full moon and I just love walking in the magical moonlight. The world just looks and feels completely different. It is so quiet up here, there's not a sound to be heard apart from the occasional tawny. And at night cars are even more scarce than by day, so I let both dogs off the lead - please don't tell our gamekeeper! - and we just walked and walked.
I felt the tension in my body get less with every step I took and I realised I should really do this more often. Because if I hadn't gone for this walk I wouldn't even have noticed how tense I was.
With every deep breath of fresh air I felt my head get clearer and my thoughts less tangled up.

I realised one of the reasons I was tense was that I was mentally preparing for this weekend. I've become a bit of a hermit since we moved here and two or three nights in a very full Youth Hostel is a big thing for me nowadays. At the same time I am so looking forward to seeing people that I haven't seen for a while, catching up, chatting, chilling out, while the kids have a great time. There's never a set programme for these weekends, although usually someone organises an interesting outing, the kids put together a play or a pantomime or a puppet show or sometimes even a musical, we go for long and short walks, and of course there's the communal cooking and eating. I suppose it's the sheer number of people and the sound they produce that I struggle with and which costs me a lot of energy.
But the moonlight seems to have charged my batteries and of course I do not have to get involved in everything. I can just withdraw to our room or go for a walk if I want to have some time and space to myself. I'm sure I'll be allright.

I was also tense because the talk with AL's tutor didn't go at all as I'd prepared it. It was brief and business-like and I felt she had her mind made up about AL and about me too, for that matter. I felt myself make a more or less desperate attempt to actually talk about the individual AL, but I simply failed to create a proper communication. The good thing is that I could just let that happen and think: Don't get all worked up about this, it's not worth your energy trying to convince this woman of anything that differs from her own opinion. Let's just do our best to support AL as good as we can to get through the remaining four months so that she gets her certificate. I'm sure it's not going to be easy for her, but she'll feel so good about finishing the year, it'll be worth it.

Although I'm quite exhausted now, I don't have the overloaded brain that I usually have at the end of a full day with lots of 'screen-time'. It feels as if the moon and the rain have washed away the heaviness. I'm ready for the weekend.


Lisa said...

I once had to go through a meeting with a teacher and had it all prepared in my head. She brought in her manager and the two of them practically ganged up against me. I knew after the first few minutes anything I said was going to be pointless. Teachers are so brainwashed into making everyone conform. Hope you had a good time at the youth hostel weekend.

Menora said...

Good words.