Why is January nominated as the month where we have to give up everything? So many people posting about giving up alcohol for January, or not giving up alcohol for January and feeling guilty about it, going down the gym, not going down the gym. Meanwhile, the weather outside continues its cycle of wet, windy, cold, grey and occasional bright glimmers of winter sun.
Somehow it seems that having a good time over Christmas and New Year must be paid for by a subsequent cleanse, purify, detox and generally painful time. Is there something deep in our psyche that suggests anything good must result in something painful? It’s OK to have a big dinner and get drunk occasionally. Typically we seem to eat and drink to excess as a way of socialising with our family and friends. But Christmas does not come round every day.
At the start of the holidays we took advantage of an offer at the fantastic Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth for a 3 course lunch with a glass of fizz. We also walked up the cliff path to Bedruthan Steps. It was a fantastic way to start the break.
Now we are back at work, and last night met up with friends to try out the new Mexican restaurant in town. Tonight we are out to see a movie. Tomorrow we are off to Dartmoor for a walk and lunch in a pub. We don’t seem to feel the need to give up enjoyable things just because it is January.
The weather outside is often wet and windy, the skies grey. Why compound this with a regression to puritan values? Surely this should be the month where we stock up on crumpets, hot chocolate and movies and treat ourselves?
Having said that, I am just about to start a training programme to get myself ready for the Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand in March. This will include four walks and two training sessions on the bike to make sure I will be able to keep up with my daughter, who although she is not a walker, is only 19! I am a great believer in the maxim that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing, so I will be out pounding the lanes whatever January throws at us. And in a weird way, I am looking forward to it. I will be getting fitter and probably enjoying the countryside when very few others are venturing outside. I love the experience of being the only person in the landscape.
I am sure that I will set up rewards for myself when I get back from some lengthy tramp, so maybe I am just doing the pleasure/pain cycle in reverse here. At the same time I am working my way through the Mindfulness course, which reminds me not to give myself a hard time, and to be present, moment to moment. So maybe the trick to surviving January and the rush of guilt and penance is just to concentrate on the present rather than feeling like I have to pay for the past. Happy 2015!