Mental health, walking, putting one foot in front of the other metaphorically and literally, etc…

‪#‎mhawnz‬ It’s been Mental Health Awareness…umm. Well… its been going for more than a week but I’m not sure it’s lasting a full month.

Lake Benmore
Lake Benmore

There was a challenge, with the hashtag ‪#‎mhawnz, where you posted a different type of photo from the outdoors every day to mark the period.

The idea is, from what I can gather, to highlight the general benefits of getting out into nature.

I seem to know a lot of people going through mental health issues at the moment.  And – in what now seems like a different life – I was, for five years, a volunteer on Youthline’s crisis line, which gave me a bit of insight into all this.

Personally? I’m not unacquainted with the black dog sniffing around the room at 3am, or waking with what I call the Boulder of Dread on my chest.

Anyone, I’ve learned, can hit overload. It’s not something I dwell on or go on about. I can hyper-intellectualise this by saying self-dramatisation is one of the ills of our age – and that is true, I think.

The other,  probably more important reason is that I’m just, culturally and emotionally,  a bit of an uptight Presbyterian about these things.

I’m okay with that, by the way. I love and accept my attitude problem.

Omarama Bridge
Snow, Omarama Bridge

Anyway, I started doing the photo challenge and then got sidetracked by combination of work and a viral chest infection.

But here’s two pics from the McKenzie area – Lake Benmore, from June a few years back, and just up the road at Omarama, snowing, last year.

More generally, I’ve written about how walking is kind of beaut,  last year.

The old mental appetite is certainly stimulated – and fed – by books, as well as by conversations, chats over coffee,  shouting matches over the Shiraz, gesticulating over the Glenmorangie.

But it is digested by walking.  This is about balance, and the interaction between walking, thinking and feeling.

The full piece, which is a review of a really great book called ‘A Philosophy of Walking’ by Frederic Gros, is here.


Apt, with Labour Weekend looming. Did some of my first tramping trips on Labour Weekends as a kid, back in the 1970s.

It rained, usually.

Nothing so ambitious this weekend, just wombling around the Wellington hills. But I’m kind of happy with that.

The sandwiches are packed, the tea’s in the flask

Reading Nick Hornby over the Christmas break, he wrote of trying to watch a soccer game (or, as the Brits quaintly call it, ‘football’) while his autistic 17-year-old son sat next to him, playing on the iPad.
The son was watching, over and over and over, a particular song from a Postman Pat video.
I glanced over at my 10 year old daughter, who was happily playing the same burst of an ABBA song over and over and over again on her iPad, and felt a bit better about the whole situation.
Not, you understand, that I’m a particular fan of ABBA. Far from it. In fact my siblings, in recalling the intense musical debates of the late 1970s which benighted our household, regard my daughter’s love of the music of the perky, pert Swedes as proof there is a God, and He’s a 1970s disco freak.
This does, you have to admit, throw a new light upon the Almighty and might explain a few hitherto baffling aspects of the Universe.
But it was a nicely laid back Christmas, by and large, and a welcome change for a bit.
Drove to and from the folks’ farm over the break, the daughter in the back. Not ABBA all the way, praise be to the Bell Bottom-wearing Deity in the Sky. She’s quite fond of classical music and we’ve reached a compromise on this. Vivaldi’s Dresden Concerto is four CDs long and it usually gets us to Taupo.
There’s plenty of stops, we pack a thermos of tea, some sandwiches made from Christmas leftovers, and its pleasant trip, mostly.
I should say at this point I love road trips – there’s nothing like getting behind the wheel and just taking off. It’s also a good way to see what is going on outside the Wellington political/media bubble.
And there’s no freaking deadline. So long as we’re back in time for dinner  – and dinnertime can be very flexible at this time of the year – its a casual scoot.
So long as the traffic isn’t too insane.
Now, I haven’t been looking at the news – I’m on holiday and I’m not looking at a newspaper, listening to a radio bulletin, or viewing any Internet news sites for a few weeks.
So I don’t know what the road toll is doing.
But there’s some weird behaviour out there.
The last time I saw New Zealand drivers hit a passing lane on a main road and not speed up was…nope, I’ve never seen it.
Usually that extra lane opens up and it’s like when you break at the start of a billiards game: all the cars speed up and seem to ping off in a great rush.
Not this time.
Not once, not twice, but three times, on the trip back, we reached a passing lane and no one overtook. All vehicles stayed in the left hand lane and hovered at around that 100 km/hr mark.
I saw about three bursts of really daft, homicidally insane behaviour by drivers (two of them in the vicinity of Tokoroa, which is par for the course in my experience)
But mostly people seem to be keeping pretty close to that 100 km/hr limit.
So far, anyway.

In the meantime, here’s the Kinks singing about road trips.