Photo: Our lovely holiday home in Denmark on the night of a full moon.
This coming weekend is my least favourite of the entire year. I would not say that I treat its arrival with dread, but it is one where for me a little bit of my year dies. It marks the end of the lighter evenings, and marks the start of the plunge into Winter. So while I do not particularly suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), there is definitely a certain sadness for me about this part of the year.
It is this time of the year, then, when I look for things elsewhere to sustain me; a principal source of this being the sort of holiday we had in the Summer. It is this time of the year when I feel I can really judge how good a time we had. I think this as something that has become more important for me over the last five to ten years.
I think having children has been a key factor for me, because holiday times are somehow a snapshot of how they were at a particular age. This is perhaps because we are somewhere different and remember particular events more and, because of the nature of these things, we tend to aim them as whatever age our children are at the time. So as I write this I am getting as myriad of memories flowing through my mind, and even those wet miserable days take on a special quality because they are in this sense unrepeatable.
It may be my generally positive outlook, but my mind tends to sift out the less enjoyable parts of a holiday over time, and leave the bits that I perhaps took for granted at the time but now realise were pretty special. The question I am asking myself is whether I do this with other memories too? Here, as usual, there seems to be some sort of balancing act at work; the extent with which we forget bad memories and experiences compared with learning from them. The balance, I guess, between making the same mistake again, doing things better next time or becoming so risk averse that we become scared of trying something new.
This, I think is probably the theme to pick up in a future post, because I just want to reflect on this year’s holiday for now as we reach the weekend when the clocks change. Although we have been back eight weeks now I feel that the warm feeling from our trip to Germany and Denmark has, if anything grown over that time. The whole experience of just being somewhere different is in and of itself great, and I think the fact that we went at a quiet time of the year when the main holiday season had already finished there really helped for me.
However, I think there was something extra special about this year’s holiday that has given it an additional sheen. I seem to have recharged my batteries even more than usual because I did the Couch To 5k challenge over the Summer. This has has the consequence that I equate different places on our journey with different parts of my progress. So, for instance, Oldenburg in Germany was where I ran for 90 seconds non-stop on a circular training track, the road that went past our holiday home in Denmark was where I ran for three minutes non-stop for the first time, and then on the way back in Aurich, also in Germany, was where I ran five minutes non-stop for the first time on the cycle paths around where we were staying.
These places marked the times when I realised I could achieve these landmarks, but they are also the places where I left behind the person who could not do these things; and that feels quite powerful to me. So, in addition to the usual memories that I will bring back from this year’s holiday… memories that are still sustaining me as Winter approaches. There is also the idea that in some distant places is a version of me that I no longer recognise, a version of me that has found a different balance in life, a version of me that has moved on and may well be more sustainable because of the distance travelled (in more than one sense).
So, while I am still not overjoyed about the end of Summer Time this weekend, it feels a little bit less of a thing this year because I feel that I am carrying more with me this year… a little bit more insulation to keep me mentally warm over the winter. Change can do this, it can work in a positive and long-lasting way, and while I do not want to harp on about it I am so pleased that I did this challenge, although did not expect it to supercharge my holiday memories.
Bring on those dark days!
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