So 2016 proves to be the year of adventure alright – and not just for tourism in Wales. It’s round about New Year’s Eve 2015 I finally face up to some difficult decisions that have long loomed; cue a rollercoaster year of change, a new home and a fresh start.
2016 is possibly my most challenging year to date, and one in which too many weekends pass without ‘finding the time’ to do the thing I love the most… walking. The reasons are numerous; there are boxes to pack and then there are boxes to unpack. There are walls to paint, emergencies to fix and a good plumber to find, which, in itself, proves a project Monica Geller would need an entire cupboard of box files to organise. Spring turns to summer turns to autumn and suddenly it’s nearly New Year’s Eve again.
It’s such a cliche, but we do only get one life. The last few years of mine have veered so far from Plan A I need a whole new alphabet and 2016 teaches me it’s time to stop planning for What’s Next and deal with What’s Now. And What’s Now, as it turns out, is pretty amazing.
A good friend makes some changes, condensing his working week into four very long days to go play in the mountains every Friday. When those around us create change and make wonderful things happen, the easiest thing is to think “lucky them” and “it isn’t fair”. I think “lucky him, it isn’t fair” for about five minutes. Then I remember I already knew life isn’t fair and start wondering what I’m going to do about it.
My family set up isn’t conducive to extra-long days; my children might call the NSPCC if I start ignoring them for 10 hours at a stretch (actually, strike that – Child No.1 would call the NSPCC. Child No.2 wouldn’t notice if he was plugged into his new Christmas laptop). But, whilst taking every Friday off isn’t possible, working smarter to take every other Friday afternoon off is…
I test the theory with the good friend, climbing the steepest mountain in Wales on a freezing December Friday (it might not officially be the steepest mountain in Wales, but anyone who’s climbed Fan Gyhirych straight up from the A4067 will testify that it is, indeed, Really Steep). From the top you can see the cobalt sparkle of Crai Reservoir, unless it’s a freezing December Friday with a mist so thick we can barely see our sandwiches. I look out to where I think the view might be and briefly think of the money I’m not earning. I wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world.
It’s just a small slice of time carved out of every fortnight, squashed in between work, Saturday morning swimming lessons and tidying my cupboard of plumbers’ phone numbers. But, for the first time, it’s set in stone, new and favourite routes joyfully planned for fixed dates rather than for when I might vaguely find the time. Happy new year all; I hope 2017 brings you adventures and challenges of the best kind and that the mist, one way or another, clears.