Breaking The Routine

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"Variety is the spice of life" - but when our everyday life seems to be  dominated by study or work routines, then variety can be sadly lacking. In such circumstances, alternative activities can serve to boost our positive attitude towards the routine tasks assigned to us.

Sometimes, we may daydream of joining others on far-away trips of adventure. Or, perhaps escaping to an isolated place and living a more nature-based existence. But then acceptance of our current reality re-directs our minds back towards our daily duties. This does not mean however, that there is no 'escape' available for us.
We simply need to evaluate realistically what time slots are available to us and how we can use them to best advantage. After all, a few hours spent on a much-loved pastime may provide us with as much relaxation as a whole day spent on aimless inactivity. A short break, with a focus assigned to it, and a target set for it, can provide ongoing benefits even after the break is over and normal routine has been resumed. There are also significant health benefits to be gained from periodically setting ourselves achievable leisure targets, then subsequently reflecting positively upon their attainment. Relying upon an 'annual holiday' as the chief break available from our routine is insufficient.

We should look at our available time slots carefully and think about whether a hobby target can be set for an evening, a new walk be undertaken etc. The important thing is to accomplish something in the time available and to feel very positive about the accomplishment of it afterwards. Cultivation of a positive attitude brings positive rewards.

So, as an illustration, I will recount my quest to seek out some positive personal reward during a 36 hour period that was available to me after work one day.

To save time, I had prepared a packed lunch the night before. So, immediately on arriving home from work, around midday, I changed cloths, hooked my inflatable boat onto the back of my Land Rover and drove the few hundred yards to the river's edge. Having launched the boat, I returned the Land Rover to the house - no need to advertise my intended overnight absence.

It was a calm sunny day and the outboard engine pushed me downstream along the meandering river past tropical mangroves backed by rainforest trees - not my normal work environment!. My destination was a small clearing in the forest close to the bank of a minor tributary of the river. I had seen the clearing before when driving the Land Rover along a nearby logging trail. I had thought at the time that it would make an interesting jungle camp site for a night. Never having camped alone in the jungle, or spent a night out with the boat before, I felt this was an achievable 'first' for me to pursue. After all, I could always walk home along the logging trail if there was a problem with the boat next morning.

So, on reaching the mouth of the tributary (photo) I continued up the much narrower and ever shallower waterway. After about 2 hours from the initial launching the boat I was approaching the camp site. Further progress with the boat would not have been possible anyway, since the rapids began around the next bend and the engine would need tilting repeatedly to avoid smashing the propeller on the rocky riverbed.

There were still at least 3 hours of daylight left, so plenty of time to select two suitable trees to suspend my hammock from and set up my bedroom for the night (photo). The hammock was one I had made myself using skills acquired from living with fishermen and watching closely as they repaired their nets. I had decided to tie a rope above the hammock and hang a tarpaulin sheet over it as a roof to shelter me from an rain that may fall in the night. The rope would also be a securing line for my mosquito net, as I did not intend to become part of the local menu.

Well, bedroom secured, the kitchen was next in need of attention. Furniture was simply nearby logs to sit on and a few rocks from the river to support the cooking pot. Job done. Stomach full. Bedtime.

Then the rain came, and came and came. At least the tarpaulin kept me dry, though I needed to improve my technique of tying it so it could drain without building up mini ponds that threatened to drench me.

When the rain finally stopped, the mosquitoes came out from hiding; it wasn't long before they discovered that attack from above was thwarted by their arch enemy 'the net'. But rump steak was still on offer as I had not thought to wear nylon over-trousers in addition to my nylon anorak. Many mosquito repellents are quite ineffective in a damp jungle environment and I think some airborne bloodsuckers regard them simply as sauce on the meat.

My next learning experience was to discover that despite the jungle being officially classified as 'tropical' it can become really quite cold in the early hours of the morning. What the rain misses the jungle mist catches; it settles on the  inside of your tarpaulin cover and hangs over you like a cold damp flannel. So another reason to tie it carefully for drainage.

When cold and awake, the call of nature inevitably shouts in your ear and you feel the urgent need to add liquid fertiliser to the local vegetation. Not being able to see the ground in front of you without a torch, the temptation is to nourish the ground nearby. Then an hour or so later you discover that the ants that have become your bedfellows were attracted from far and wide by the salt content of your urine. So I learnt that it's important to answer the call of nature correctly, otherwise nature comes calling upon you.

So, back to bed, only to be alerted soon afterwards by something large moving underneath my hammock. By the time I had found my torch in the dark I could just make out bushes in the undergrowth moving together after something had passed though. Probably a wild boar, as they were common here. At least I had hung my hammock high enough for it not to feel the need to probe with its tusks what was blocking its path. So I learnt to always inspect my camp site carefully for possible animal routes before hanging my hammock.

Finally, the long awaited dawn arrives. I was originally planning to cook some breakfast before setting off for home. But, buttered toast and other home-based breakfast delights were really only about 90min away and the temptation was just too much. After all I had learnt quite a lot; maybe an unintended target but nevertheless a positive one. However, there was another lesson yet to be learnt; I could not start the outboard engine. The mist and rain had soaked the electrics. Trying to pull-start a stubborn 25HP engine with no fuel in one's stomach is a lesson to remember. As I drifted down stream I made a mental note that I would wrap the electrics in cloth next time to keep them dry. Finally, I got the engine started.

Oh, did that buttered toast taste good.

Author: Maurice Thurman

Copyright © 2013 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources

Holistic Living Annex (JULY 2013)

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